Uncontrollably Unabashed

By Melodious Monk

This past Sunday, our marching band was part of a parade celebrating the 350th anniversary for a nearby town. Marching down the narrow streets, I noticed a particularly happy group along the side of the road — young kids! It’s fun to see how the rhythm of the drums, or the sparkle of the uniform, or the sound of the instruments, the twirling flags, or just the sheer size of the long marching unit makes kids smile.

You know when a toddler or infant is excited and they just start flailing their arms and body with lots of energy and smiles?  They aren’t controlled enough yet to do much else, but when something inside is sparked to life, they respond with a type of dancing (of sorts!) and there is absolutely no care of what they might look like! Some of us older kids, I’m afraid, are often too embarrassed to follow this impulse to dance. We care what we look like, and perhaps we are afraid we might look like the uncontrolled toddler trying to dance. The young child doesn’t care about pride, or how they look — they’re just excited and want to express that innate joy. Marching in the parade, I wondered if this instinctive response to express, to dance, to let oneself be sparked by joy, is part of what Jesus means when He tells us to live child-like.

So I wonder, what form of control often robs me of this unabashed joy as an adult? Is it simply pride?

The Community of Jesus

 

Stories

By Renaissance Girl

We marched in a Memorial Day parade in Holden, MA Monday. We’ve marched it for a few years now and it’s a parade the whole band looks forward to. It’s almost more a liturgy than a parade – and rightly so – as we honor the men and women who have laid down their lives so that we have the freedom we have today.

For some reason I found this time especially moving. The parade route winds through the cemetery and we stop 5 times for a prayer, patriotic song by the Girl and Boy Scouts, a rifle salute and the playing of taps. When we got to our first stop, the honor guard called their men to attention and gave the salute and I happened to see a man on the sidelines. He was in shorts and a grey Army t-shirt, on a bike, wearing a black bike helmet. As soon as the men came to attention, he was off his bike and at attention, his hand to his forehead in a salute – and I think that’s what got me. This ordinary man, on a bike, had an internal response from whatever experience he’s had, that brought him to attention. And I wondered how many ordinary men and women on that street, maybe that we’d pass, had held the hands of a dying friend – or made it through boot camp with strangers who became brothers. Or, how many ordinary men and women in this town answered their phone (or their door) to the news they hoped they’d never hear. And I felt overcome with respect and gratitude and pride in our country that believes humanity is worth fighting for. God Bless America.

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor
 
Children, Chant and Percussion

         
Sitting in a cold sports arena in northern Massachusetts during a high school winter percussion rehearsal is not exactly where I might be inclined to think about chant. But, as I was listening to the marimba and vibraphone warm-up, I was struck by the fact that the exercise was actually a modal exercise — Mode V in fact. The kids playing that exercise find performing a piece on a chant mode just as normal as a major or minor scale!
 
All of the members of this winter percussion group attend the service of Lauds every morning so, just like the percussion instruments they so enthusiastically play, the chant is something that has come to be a part of them and their everyday experience.
 
Listening to them play, you can tell that they have developed a sense of how to breathe and “speak” together and that has come at least, in part, from their daily attendance of the Divine Office. What an inspiration it is to hear and see the dedication of these teenagers as they work so diligently in preparation for their upcoming shows. Anyone who has been involved in the arts knows that much of what is required is consistent determination — daily working at the craft — just like our work as cantors. It makes me wonder if, the next time we are at Lauds, if I will see the faces of these young people and be reminded of that Mode V keyboard warm-up — one more great example of chant as part of everyday life!
 
cantors.blog

Tradition – Taking Time to Celebrate

by Melodius Monk 

On Sunday I marched in a festive parade honoring the 200th anniversary of a traditional textile mill and factory town in southeastern Massachusetts, fittingly named Millbury. For the hours I was in Millbury, it felt like a national holiday, bands, floats, kids playing, antique cars, lawn-chairs, balloons, grills, vendors and more….all the makings of a celebratory parade. In our increasingly hectic and instant-access 21st century lives, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have time to stop and celebrate – to rejoice and honor events big and small, past and present in our lives. We should plan to take time with our friends to celebrate important events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or any other milestones. Daily we need to take time to thank God for His blessings to each of us; for as Psalm 118 says, This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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Running While Standing Still

I’m reluctant to admit it but I think the very thing I dread or complain about is the thing that may bring me the greatest sense of fulfillment…  
 
I was driving home today thinking “I’m tired of being in a rush….why couldn’t my life be simpler?”  And almost before the thought was over, there was a second one, “OK — well, what would you change?”  So I thought about it (as I do again every time I feel like moaning that I just can’t keep up).  I love singing in choir, I love being in band, I love theatre, and (dare I admit it) I feel a twinkle of what I think may be love growing for my new job. I love my dog, I love the people I live with, I love being with my friends…..   

Don’t get me wrong — I am anything but a big bundle of love walking around — but I guess my conclusion is, I’d rather wake up in the morning asking, “How am I going to do all the things I have to do today?” than “What am I going to do today?”

 

Lights, Camera, Auction

Much work and care culminated once again in this summer’s Charity Auction set up beautifully in a large tent by the bay.  God was very good to send favorable weather, and many hands – young and old – were active in putting it on to raise money for the needy and for the arts.  Time, talents, gifts, money: they all make up parts of our lives and we collaborate with the Lord in making them useful.  So it’s good to celebrate what He’s doing in our midst by continuing what we’re doing as best we can.

Proud To Be An American

 I had the privilege of marching with Spirit of America Band in two 4th of July parades on Wed.

The band was comprised of present members and alumni from the past 10 years.  For many of us “oldies” (I’m 63), marching in parades was in our blood. It all came back, and there was tons of grace for us to give our all.  I heard a comment from the sidelines….a man said “They really exemplify the Spirit of America….there’s a difference with this group!”  I was so proud to be a part of it, and hope in some small way, we made a difference.

 

4th of July

Spirit of America Band marched in two parades – the first one in Bristol, RI where vets from all wars back to Korea were marching in uniform. How can we thank them for their sacrifice?  Marching and playing with all our hearts for three hours in baking heat, thanking God for the wonderful country he has given us — the land of the free and the brave.

The Cost of Freedom

I saw a movie the other night I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.  It’s called “Act of Valor” and is about a group of Navy SEALs who embark on a mission that turns out bigger than they thought.  It’s the people I can’t get out of my head – these ordinary guys with families and homes who answer a Call and leap out – with no idea when or if they’ll be back.  A real vocation, not unlike monastic life in the sense that their life is completely given to more then just what they want.  When the call comes, they move, no matter what they’re in the middle of.  The split-second sacrificial choices – for them it’s literally a matter of life and death. So when Spirit of America Band is marching in two parades this 4th of July, I’ll be thinking about these men and women who have answered the Call to serve this Nation – and sacrificed everything.  Thank you to all our service men and women, past and present.  God help us to honor your lives.