Archive for December 16th, 2009

Pilgrimage Statistics:

Consecutive Days Riding: 67                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 68

Today’s Mileage: 10                                            Total Trip Mileage: 589

The red line marks our progress.

 “Now turn off your judging function!” she stated as we sat in the car in front of the church.

“I don’t have a judging function,” I exclaimed with a smile.

“Oh Yes you do!”

First United Methodist

Of course we all have a judging function.  It helps us establish the validity of our experiences and assists us to choose possible courses of action.  I try to turn my judging function on, only when it is needed in decision making.  Even as a psychologist/ therapist I do not walk around judging peoples’ words and behaviors.  I do it when I am paid to assign to a patient a psychiatric label, or when I have to interact with someone towards a common goal.

 With a fidgety eight year old at my side, I sit in the pew prior to the service, watching worshipers file in.  They engage in joyful conversations and laughter.  I smile at the familiarity of the symbols I recognize: the cross, the candles and the tree. I sense memories circling just below the surface of my awareness, like precious fish who surface at times of celebration, reminders of childhood and simpler pleasures. 

I watch as a gentleman walks slowly from candle to candle, bearing a flame.  I smile, reminded of my youth as an “altar boy” and the panic I carried with me when making the same rounds: “What if the flame goes out?”  I knew all too well of the snickers from parishioners and the disapproving glance of the old priest. I breathed a sigh of relief at his success.

Altar with Holiday Trimmings!

I intend to turn off all judging functions and turn up to full volume my experiencing function.  I hum “the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay” as metal and wood pipes fill the sanctuary with joyful sound.

–          Organ pipes tower overhead

–          Stained glass glows

–          Flickering candles

–          Tree topped with an angel

–          Tropical plants, symbol of the season, line the altar

–          Soft pew seats

–          Youthful energy rocks and jitters at my side

–          The choir files in

–          White gowns and purple stoles

–          Low voices to the left, high voices to the right

–          Bells ring then silence fills the hall

–          My partner’s voice calls for the festivities to begin

–          Memories dance and swirl about me as the choir sings:

“It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old. From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.”

–          Calls for love, peace and unity

–          Feelings of pride and admiration for a loved one

–          She leads the angelic voices

–          sweeping arms, commanding voices

–          Pulling, coaxing, nurturing

–          Waves of heavenly sound

–          Carried higher and higher

–          Wash over transfixed faces in the pews

–          “rejoice, rejoice”

–          “He shall speak peace!”

–          “Unto the heavens… rejoice”

–          “Rise up and follow the star in the east”

–          “Let us rejoice and sing”

–          “On Christmas day in the morning”

–          Nine lessons shared

–          Congregation: Thanks be to God.

–          “Joy to the world”

–          The voices of the choir and the action of the director

–           an auditory and visual feast

 “Peace on earth good will to all from heav’n’s all gracious king.  The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.”

–          Rising to our feet

–          Handshakes, smiles and greetings abound in parting

–          Some rush out filled with joy

–          Others linger to savor the moment

–          I smile at the youthful slumber of my eight year old ward

–          I am thankful for this community for their sharing and joy

–          I am hopeful for their words

–          For the possibility of bridges

–          between peoples, churches, and nations

–          “Peace on Earth good will to all men”

–          Joyful hugs among the choir

–          Off stage as they drop their clerical garb

–          Emotional high fives all around

–          Spreading the infectious joy of the season

The Team


The teacher


       Facing forward    

       Leads us skyward

       With fifteen voices

       And waving arms

       Always with the beat



The student


       Single pure voice

       Climbing ever higher

       Soaring above the clouds

       Took us over the top

       Didn’t want it to stop

I sit in the car, warming up the interior, jotting down notes of fresh memories.

Gifts for all... rejoice!

What about my judging function? It was largely non-existent as the experience unfolded, weaving memories with fresh images, childhood emotions with the joy of the present.  There were moments, when scripture quotes began to triggered intellectual questions, but like a mindful meditation exercise, I  brought my awareness back to the moment.

This day was about community and sharing the human emotions of joy and celebration.  My approach would have been the same if the church had been a temple, a mosque, or a fire circle in sacred woods!

Peace on Earth Good will to All!

Thanks to the Easley First United Methodist Church, their choir, minister and welcoming congregation.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

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