If you have not heard “O Holy Night” sung by Kristen Watson, you have not heard “O Holy Night!”  Music has the power to break through defenses and touch us at the core of our being.  When trite or contrived or done badly, it has no power but to annoy.  When done well, with honesty and integrity, there is no defense that can repel its power to engage one’s spirit.

When Kristen sang “Gesu Bambino” there were no defenses left.  The last note with its quiet and gentle power, set the stage for “O Holy Night.”  Since retiring from the Pastoral Ministry, a combination of Caregiving demands and traveling to visit family have diminished dramatically the opportunities to attend the most powerful worship opportunities at Christmas.  Last night’s concert was an experience powerful enough to fill the spiritual longing that comes with each Christmas season.

What added to the deeply felt comfort was that I was able to sit with Mary Ann in the little raised area for those in wheelchairs.  My ticket was for a seat behind and a dozen feet away from Mary Ann. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down separated that far from Mary Ann.  It surprised me a little to feel so strongly the need to be next to her.  In the past, I have generally retreated into my own world at concerts, listening intently, immersed in the music.  Someone suggested the possibility, and I checked to be sure it was acceptable for me to sit in that area.  Companion Care Aide, Debbie, sat on the other side of Mary Ann.  As it turned out, there was no need for a trip to the bathroom during the concert.   All of us got to experience fully the entire program of music from silly to sacred.

There was a dimension to the evening that I did not fully anticipate.  Having retired from the role of Senior Pastor at the congregation I served for over a dozen years, I have not seen and talked with more than a handful of the members of that congregation since I retired a year and a half ago.  It was like a reunion.  It didn’t take long to realize how much I miss the people who had become a part of my life during those years.

There is an intimacy that develops between pastor and people that is hard to describe. The ministry is not as much a job as it is a relationship.  Certainly there are lots of other professions that include at least as strong a relational element.  I can only speak to the ministry, more specifically, my experience of it.  Last evening I redicovered how connected I came to feel to all those folks, and how much I have missed getting to interact, to talk and listen and kid around with people I care about.

The combination of celebrating a reunion of sorts as well as being lifted spiritually by the music made for a very good night out.  Mary Ann was greeted and engaged by many, and she too enjoyed the music.

After two days holed up in the warm house, protected against the elements (snow and bitter cold), we both needed the time out, distracted by something other than the television.

The change in the medicine mentioned in last night’s post seemed to have the hoped for consequences.  There was a return to a more normal level of intestinal activity almost immediately on discontinuing the generic Mestinon.  Today has been a fairly normal day.  Mary Ann got up early, then took a two and a half hour nap.  We got out to lunch at BoBo’s, headed to the Honda dealership for a quick minor repair of the CD player in the van, and visited the home of a friend, one of Mary Ann’s closest friends from almost the very first day we arrived here nearly fourteen years ago.

Tonight Mary Ann had some pain that needed a nitroglycerin pill.  Those are always scary moments, although not at all uncommon for folks with heart blockages such as Mary Ann’s.  The pain subsided after taking the pill.  She woke up a few moments ago and needed a trip to the commode.  The Thursday people are back.  She wanted to know what the next family was going to do.  She insisted on closing the bedroom door while she used the commode so that they could not see her.  I hope she is able to get back to sleep, and that she has a restful night.

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