On the Blessings of Surrender


Few things can defeat the tenacity of my commitments. One of them may be the exhaustion wrought by standing for two-and-a-half hours in a chapel surrounded by people holding enough candles to light a decade’s worth of Earth Hours. The routes to higher consciousness are many, but I’m not quite sure if heat stroke is one of them.

I’m not accustomed to attending the Easter Vigil and would have foregone it this year (yet again) if not for the insistence of Abbey who sings regularly with the church choir. Consistent with my temperament, I prefer the more solitary sacraments (Reconciliation over the Eucharist, for instance). The press of people in a Mass distracts me, draws my attention to the trivial particulars of clothes, shoes, jewelry and makeup, so that entire sections of the Liturgy pass me by. I won’t even begin to mention the moral hazard more popularly known as the homily (the source of many an unChristian thought given the exacting standards I set for authority figures, in general, and priests, in particular).

What rescues me, time and again, is the music of the Mass—especially the songs sung during the Offertory. Then, for a few blessed moments, I’m freed of the cacophony in my head and oblivious to the incessant, ironic critiques of the philosopher and the writer. In the space provided by two or three songs, I can forget (and forgive) the uncertainty (and maybe even the absence) of absolutes and be present to the incongruous miracle of complete strangers congregating for one hour a week to celebrate an event that happened in an utterly foreign place in utterly foreign times.

In any case, the upshot of all this is that I’m bone-tired and therefore barely capable of stringing together the requisite number of words. What surprises me is the discovery that, fatigue notwithstanding, there is quite a lot that I have to say. Which just goes on to prove that in writing, as in praying, letting go is the only rule.

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