Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Quiet Life.  The full moon last night, named the Cold Moon, was beautiful.  It was a clear and cold night, and I enjoyed the magnificent sight.  Many nights of the full moon this year have been rainy or overcast.  Days grow more and more short.  They will for three more days.

I have begun watching days and their lengths.  I have been watching how I pace myself during days.  Pacing myself in the mornings of December and July is different.  I have begun watching rooms.  Where is the energy stale?  What do I do about improving the energy?  I have been watching my emotional landscape during the day and its activities.  Where is the unbalance?  What do I do about it?  I have been watching my talking.  I talk a great deal more than I need to.  How do I detract from the blessedness of silence?  Why?

Two Worship Services.  December 15, 2013.  I attended a Protestant worship service at a church where I was recently a member and taught Sunday School and sang in the choir after attending Mass at the church where I currently worship.  I had not been in a Protestant church in two months.  I wanted to note differences.

In the Protestant Church, there are much activity and more emphasis centered on the worshipers.  Between services is Sunday School.  People are busy in its operation and participation.  Before the service, people gather in the sanctuary and visit with one another.  The minister makes rounds and greets people as he makes his way to the back to begin the service with a processional.  The service is in celebration of Christmas.  Hymns are Christmas carols.  The children perform a short pageant telling the Christmas story.  The offertory is a piano solo arrangement of a Christmas carol.  The choir sings a Christmas anthem.

In the Catholic Church, there is more emphasis on worship.  There are three masses with thirty minutes between them, no Sunday School.  People visit in the lobby before service.  Once they enter the worship space, they are silent, often kneeling in prayer.  The priest enters only during the processional.  The service celebrates Advent.  Hymns and service music are not about Christmas.  The focus of the homily is about waiting and hoping and anticipation of blessing.  Christmas has not yet come.

Readings for the Season.  Two pieces, both hilarious.

(1) David Sedaris, “The Santa Land Dairies,” in Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice.  Sedaris recalls playing an elf in Macy’s in New York City during the holiday season.  His experiences and observations are recorded in this short essay,  which gives witty insights into many aspects of the season, including types of parents and children, types of people playing Santa and various types of elves.  The observations are sharp and mostly funny.

(2) T.R. Pearson, A Short History of a Small Place, the Christmas pageant scene.  It’s a nativity presentation in which everything goes wrong, including live animals’ sniffing members of the congregation, farting, knocking over scenery and knocking over a lantern, starting a fire; the angel of the Lord held in traction as audience members leave; the baby Jesus’s head rolling off.

I taught the book for a couple of years in Denver, and after the seniors made expected complaints about its length (“It’s not a short history of anything.”), they relaxed and often were talking about the humor in the scenes as they entered class.  One group chose this scene to dramatize.

Music for the Season.  “Christmas with Chanticleer,” featuring guest artist Dawn Upshaw.  (TeldecClassics, 2001).  The album features Christmas music from many cultures, traditions, and musical styles.  Many are in contemporary arrangements.  The inclusion of Upshaw’s beautiful soprano voice contrasts and highlights the range of the counter tenors.  Favorite pieces: “Spanish Carol” and “The Three Kings.”

Next Wednesday is Christmas Day.  Part of my celebration will be to write a post for this blog.  Enjoy solstice.  Enjoy holiday celebrations.  Thanks for reading.

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About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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