I never thought I would be blogging on Christmas Day. However, like so many of my days, this one has not panned out as planned.
Last night, Noelle and Doah came to the mission church to sing carols and attend the Christmas Eve mass which is always beautiful in our old mission where the structure is a bit more sophisticated than a barn might be, thanks to some primitive frescoes, the paintings of the stations of the cross up and down the aisles, and, behind the altar, the inset statues of nine saints who are locally important to us. At the same time, one has only to look down to see animal footprints pressed into the floor as the earthen tiles were drying 200 years ago.
My view of the mass differed from the usual since normally I sit near the back of the church but with Noelle present needed to sit up front where there is space for wheelchairs. As Fr. Ed stopped partway down the center aisle to place baby Jesus in the creche, we could see that Suli, the feral white cat adopted several years ago by the parish, had curled up beside the sheep and was sleeping, oblivious to what was happening around her. Later, during Fr. Ed's homily, when the unheated church had been warmed up by the tightly packed congregation, she awoke, sauntered down the aisle, and brushed past Fr. Ed, who included her in his homily. Then, tail held high, she danced past the dozens of poinsettias and candles surrounding the altar and out of the church through the sacristy door. Suli is a great reminder of the Franciscan founders of the mission.
After mass, Donnie took Noelle home, her medical needs not permitting her to stay overnight, and I tumbled into bed after a long day that had included eight hours of highly stressful crises at work followed by the beautiful but late evening mass.
When I woke up this morning, a cold of some import clutched me tightly, making it difficult to crawl out from under the warm covers. Unfortunately, having a cold precludes me from participating in Christmas dinner with Shane and Lemony, our new tradition since the kids grew up, because Nikolina's health is still too fragile for exposure to external germs. Home for Christmas took on a new meaning today.
Donnie and Doah (called by some "Me and Mini-me") pranced out the door in their in look-alike Santa hats several hours ago, and I have been left alone with the cats: Murjan, Intrepid, and Simone. Pre-conversion, being alone would not have been a desirable state for this extrovert. The reason I have disliked assignments to megapolises has been because I generally feel alone in a crowd in these places. There is a very special kind of loneliness that comes from being surrounded by people who neither know you nor care about you. Nowadays I find solitude to be a gift for when I am by myself I am rarely alone. At those times, whether it is in a crowded airport or here at home with sleeping cats, God is palpably with me. Solitude at home is even more special because it means I can spend time in contemplative prayer, which I did today. I did not feel alone even for one minute today; I had the best visitor possible. So, I have had a very blessed day, dressed in the infamous pink pajamas that I wore to a business casual party some years ago.
Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas Day and season!