Skip to comments.Holy Hour for Life, Graced Hour for Healing
Posted on 02/07/2009 5:40:20 PM PST by Dawn Elizabeth Slike
Reflections: Holy Hour for Life, Graced Hour for Healing
By Dawn Slike Monday, January 26, 2009 AD
This past Thursday evening I had set aside a few weeks ago for our church's Holy Hour for Life. Fr. Donnelly and several people in ministry hold this event on the 22nd, for those who do not travel to Washington for the march. It is always an evening of reverence and holiness.
In light of my daughter Sherrill's recent passing, I had to think about whether I really wanted to sit in a church with an any-sized group of people. I knew it would mostly be my closest friends, my very best pro-life allies, my most supportive co-workers. But I had to weigh that against the chance I would let go a little too much, get too emotional, or say something too quickly and regret it later. There's a cute and succinct self-analysis out there which reflects for some of us the true nature of our beautiful but imperfect condition: "I love humanity, it's people I can't stand." If anything could encapsulate the depth and breadth of my personality, it is this.
I decided to go. It was, after all, the one annual Immaculate Conception event I absolutely should attend. But I openly admit, I really just intended to sit by myself. Choosing a pew would not be difficult: way far back. Of course I also knew God would probably not let that happen. Our parishioners are too loving, too concerned, too giving of their quiet presence and their time.
It was about twenty people, including our deacon. Everyone else was returning on a red-eye from Washington. As I looked from my vantage point at the floral arrangements in the sanctuary from my daughter's funeral and marveled how long they were lasting, it never occurred to me that nobody from the guitar ministry was up front setting up microphones and music stands for the service.
Finally Lorraine came over to hug me. She carefully and quietly explained that because Steve had to be by his wife's side for the delivery of their seventh child, he had not had the time to arrange music for tonight's event. I looked down at my watch; it was 3 minutes to 7. I whispered back, "I'll play. I have to play." The songs were simple; I could have played them in the dark. But I told her as we ran upstairs together to set up the organ, "I won't be able to sing, but there are plenty of good singers down there." She understood.
In the frame of about 60 seconds setting up the organ, I remember mind-messaging God, "Already you call me to do things when I just want to be quiet and blend into the background? I told you I'd go. But I do understand, certainly. Michelle is so close to my heart, and of course Steve had to be with her. It's all right. They can sing downstairs. I will just play. It'll be fine. Still, I admit, Father God, you do annoy me sometimes."
A gesture from Tom, our deacon, down in the sanctuary, prompted me to announce "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman." I was pleased the two songs they had chosen were among my favorites. I was pleased the keys would be very easy for everyone to sing in. I'll just bring then in with the first few words.
"Hail Mary, full of grace ..."
I am by habit very close to the microphone, but oddly, tonight it feels like I am one with it. Though I can hear voices downstairs and am singing very softly myself, I do not stop.
"Gentle woman, quiet light ... morning star, so strong and bright ..."
Now I can see that this beautiful piece of music honoring our Blessed Mother is describing my Sherrill to a "T." Gentle, quiet (well, most of the time), strong (as in, tough as nails), and so very, very bright. She sparkled, in her smile, in her laugh, in her intelligence and in her empathy for all.
I finish the song to its end, and of course nothing seems out of the ordinary. Everyone loves the song so much so we all get a little misty. In a nearly empty church, from my loft, it is easy to hear things like missalette pages being turned or Kleenex being pulled from pockets.
Well, I reflected. Maybe it won't be so hard to do this after all. It does not bring me pain to sing when my daughter's absence from our earthly bond makes me want to weep uncontrollably at times. This revelation surprised me. I'm already singing, and it's okay. It's really okay.
We have wonderful readings, a powerful homily, passionate litanies, and the Rosary of course. Tom was eloquent in his homily reflections as always, but I can't remember what he said. My mind is on Sherrill, and my eyes are on the organ bench.
I smile as I remember for a moment how she absolutely hated her piano lessons as a young teen. She went to great, deliberate lengths to punish us when she struck the keys. Sherrill was always sure of what she did not want. As a baby, she would take her scrambled eggs off the plate by the itty-bitty fingerful, stare into my eyes and simultaneously drop them from her high chair tray to the floor. Sherrill was the world's best body language communicator.
The Holy Hour passed quickly and smoothly.
We closed with "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," another of my favorites. Another good choice, a deeply reverent song praising the Creator, written in a nice comfortable key and tempo.
Again it was effortless to sing. And again Sherrill's joy in heaven was brought into my vision as we proclaimed our belief in our eternal reward:
"Hark! The loud celestial hymn Angel choirs above are raising, Cherubim and seraphim, In unceasing chorus praising; Fill the heav'ns with sweet accord: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord.' Fill the heav'ns with sweet accord: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord.' "