Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 And Beyond: Thy Kingdom Come

I read somewhere on online
that artists, lawyers, businessmen,
and hippies
have been making their way to Chichen Itza.

I go to Mexico every year.
A few years back,
I got to go twice in the same year.
My trips to Mexico
always include time at museums and historic ruins.
I’ve been to the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City
more times than I count.
Honestly, you can spend a whole week in there
and not see it all,
not remember it all,
not take enough pictures.

I’ve been to the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.
I’ve been to Tula.
I’ve visited the ruins in Oaxaca.

Chichen Itza is on my list.
In all honesty,
I’m a little jealous
of those who made there way down.
I hope to get there one day.

But one thing that just gets my goat
is all of this 2012 hype.
People without a clue
spread such garbage.
And even people who have somewhat of a clue
(like the History Channel)
use the wrong calendar
when discussing 2012.

And guess what?
We’re still here!
No surprise,
at least,
not for me.

I’m not an historian
and don’t have anything more
than an interest
in the ancient ruins of Mexico.
And I must admit
my interest is more Aztec than Mayan.
You can’t visit museums
as much as I have
and not learn a little something along the way.

But, alas,
even the History Channel
in at least one program
got it wrong.

What I’ve seen
is the image of the Aztec calendar used
when people discussed this 2012 stuff.
The 2012 doomsday stuff
(which I think was really stunt
to get people to buy stuff, spend money)
is based on the Mayan Calendar.

I mean,
even Google gets it wrong.
Google Mayan Calendar Long Count
and under images you get the Aztec.

And let’s get specific here.
They Mayan’s have more than one calendar:
 - The Tzolkin or Sacred Round
 - The Haab or Civil Calendar (which most resembles our the calendar we currently use)
 - The Long Count (the one inspiring all of the doomsday stuff)

The Tzolkin is know as the divine calendar.
It is called the Sacred Round or Tzolkin,
which means the distribution of days.
This is a cyclic calendar.
Using this calendar,
there are 260 days,
with 20 periods (months) of 13 days.
This used to determine religious and ceremonial events.

The Haab is a solar calendar
and has 365 days.
It is divide into 18 months with 20 days each.
It has one month that is only 5 days long.

The Long Count Calendar is  an astronomical calendar.
It was used to track longer periods of time.
The Mayas referred to time as the “universal cycle”.
Each such cycle is calculated to be 2,880,000 days
(about 7885 solar years).
The Mayans believed that the universe is destroyed
and then recreated at the start of each universal cycle.
And so here we have the belief
that inspired all of this end of the world doomsday stuff.
It’s the end of the cycle.
But the universe recreates itself after being destroyed.
It’s not the end of time.
It’s the beginning of a new era.   

The Tzolkin and Haab calendars
were combined
to create a calendar of much longer “time.”
This is how the Mayas
created the Long Count Calendar.   

Did you see
that all describing word
in the previous paragraphs?
It’s not linear, folks.
Time, according to Mayan tradition and beliefs,
It’s the end of one cycle,
but the beginning of a new cycle.
It’s the beginning of a new era.

I hope to one day visit Chichen Itza.
Not because of everything I just detailed here.
But because
this ancient stuff is just so darn interesting.

And so we have
artists, lawyers, businessmen,
and hippies
making their way to Chichen Itza.
Maybe they get it.
Maybe those people get it.
It’s the beginning of a new era.

At least,
I would hope so.

I mean,
it’s like the more civilized we’ve become
the more barbaric we have become.
We have all of this technology
and so little concern about others.
We have become a nation
that devours her children
in more ways than one,
and then when we celebrate the Dec. 12th feastday
of Our Lady of Guadalupe
we dare call the Aztecs
horrible and barbaric for human sacrifice.

It’s time, people.
It’s time.

It’s time to create that new era. . . .

. . .an era where children can go to school
and not worry about being safe.

. . .an era when having a child
and rearing a child
is considered a blessing,
a worthy and valued vocation.

. . .an era where we care for those who are ill,
when we take care of those with mental/emotional illness.

. . .an era where we actually spend time
and listen to our neighbor
and care and worry about him/her.

. . .an era when we hate less
and love more.. . .
. . .a era where we don’t label people,
but just love them
and care for them
for who they are:
Children of God.

. . .an era where we own less
(accumulate less stuff)
but share more, give more.

. . .an era where we clean not only the air,
the land and the water,
but our innermost being.

Maybe, in the end,
the ancient Mayas had it right.
It’s time, people.
It’s time.

Thy Kingdom Come.
Are you up for the challenge?

* * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * *

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Am A Pastoral Musician

I asked a good friend
to offer the opening prayer
at the Choir Festival this Saturday.

Fr. Tom and I go way back.
He asked me
what was has been
the most significant things in my ministry
over these past 30 years.

Below is, quite literally,
the email message I responded with.
I decided to post here
and in my 30 Years In Music Blog as well.
I just thought
that those who read my occasional ramblings
on electronic parchment
might want to know
just what exactly
goes on in Rubi’s head.

The most significant things about my ministry
these past 30 years??

a few things come to mind. . ..

Learning to be grateful for many things,
. . . like years and years of classical piano study my parents gave me.
I hated piano lessons as a teenager,
but now can't imagine my life without it.
We sometimes walked to piano lessons with my mother
because my father worked swing-shift,
I think it was about 7 miles. . . I hated it!!!!
But today,
I am ever grateful my mother made us walk those miles
and made us take those piano lessons. . ..

gratitude. . . .I own a baby grand piano,
also a gift from my mother. . .
. . .What mother ever gave her daughter
a baby grand piano for a gift???

Learning what is my talent. . .
A lot people really don't know what their talent is.
Talent isn't necessarily artistic.
A lot of people don't know that either.
But what is my talent???
.. . is it really music?
But I'm more inclined to think
that it's bringing out the talent in others.
Sometimes they don't even see it.
I help them "see" that all things are possible.
Maybe music is the gift.
But I'm really inclined to think music is the avenue to something greater.
Bringing out the talent of others is the gift.
And even more,
bringing out the musical talent in others,
in turns, helps to bring greater gifts
that they didn't know they had.
 . . yes. . . music is the avenue. . .

The most significant thing?
The children.
Every parish I have ever served in
I have tried hard to develop a children's choir.
Some places had success stories to tell, others not so much.
80% of people who sing in choirs as an adult
sang in a choir as a child.
This is a music ministry no-brainer.
After 30 years,
I am graced by God to see and experience this statistic first-hand.

. . .and children are so free.
I love working with adults,
but adults always have an opinion. .
. . it's too fast, too slow, too high, too low,
it's a boring song, I don't like that song,
the other song was better, why do we have to learn this song. . .
Children just sing.
Children make you laugh.
And when they get it, when they really get,
the children will make you cry.

Even more,
I am a child of the 80%.
I sang in the children's choir once upon a time.
Who would have thought that a gazillion years later,
I would be living out the statistic
that I so often quote to others . .
 . . in more ways than one. . .

In the end,
I know that I am not just leading music
for Sunday to Sunday.
I am doing something
that will create the musician
who will one day replace me.
That director will come from the children.
80% of people who sing in choirs as adults
sang in a choir as a child.
And one of those children will actually grow up
to be the parish's music director.

the children are the most significant part
of my music ministry. . .

. . .another thought about things significant. .  .

Music in general.
A musician takes years to make.
And just being a musician
doesn't necessarily make one a Pastoral Musician.
it takes years to make a musician.

In recent years,
I've dedicated a part of myself
to help create musicians,
more specifically, pianists.

I teach at both
COMPAS - Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest
Garage Cultural - Center of Music and Visual Arts.
And more recently,
offering lessons in my home studio.

While neither of these schools are on
an ecclesial acre of land,
I do consider it a part of my mission and ministry.
In fact,
some of my students have been my own choir members,
one of which will be a soloists during the children's portion
of Saturday's program.

But again. . .
it goes back to the mission
of creating the musician who will one day replace me.

I guess what I'm trying to say
is that it's not enough to know
that 80% of people who sing in the choir as adult
sang in a choir as a child.
It's not enough to form a children's choir,
to form the children in the music ministry.
I think it is also necessary
to form that young musician,
in time,
will be formed as a Pastoral Musician.

. . .while my ministry has had her ups and downs,
her fun pastors to work with
and her not so fun pastors to work with,
I wouldn't change it for the world.
I am a Pastoral Musician.
This is my Vocation.

. . and that vocation continues to grow and evolve
even after 30 years. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
about the photo:
the musically talented hands of one of my piano students!

Monday, April 9, 2012

All Shall Be Well

I don't know. . .
I've been feeling a little
Julian of Norwich lately. . .
could have something to do with
having 2 people very close to me
that were/are in 2 different hospitals,
one person elderly
and the other young,
and trying to celebrate Holy Triduum
in the midst of it all.

Julian of Norwich gets to the heart of things.

. . and I must say
that I do agree with Mother Julian.
All Shall Be Well.

* * * * * * * * * *

“All shall be well,
and all shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well.”

“God loved us before he made us;
 and his love has never diminished and never shall.”

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God
is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”

"Pray inwardly,
even if you do not enjoy it.
 It does good, though you feel nothing.
Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing."

“See that I am God.
See that I am in everything.
See that I do everything.
See that I have never stopped ordering my works,
nor ever shall, eternally.
See that I lead everything
on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began,
by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it.
How can anything be amiss?”

“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God
who is always kept safe,
I know nothing of it,
for it was not shown to me.
But this was shown:
that in falling and rising again
we are always kept in that same precious love.”

“... so our customary practice of prayer was brought to mind:
how through our ignorance
 and inexperience in the ways of love
we spend so much time on petition.
I saw that it is indeed more worthy of God
and more truly pleasing to him that through his goodness
we should pray with full confidence,
and by his grace cling to him with real understanding and unshakeable love,
than that we should go on making as many petitions
as our souls are capable of.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Overwhelming Sadness

So sad.
Really it’s all so sad.
I am just overwhelmed by sadness.

What pushes people to that point?
Is it that we didn’t show them enough love?
Is it that we didn’t show them
that we would, in fact,
be there for them when they needed us?
Is it that they didn’t believe it?

Why didn’t he pick the phone and call someone,
call us?
Why didn’t he drive to a friend’s house?
Why didn’t he go to the hospital emergency room
and tell them
he was afraid he might hurt himself?

What happens?
How do people get so filled with sadness
that they decide to take their own life?

I’m filled with a sadness
that words simply cannot express.

Am I sad
because I loved him like my own son?

Am I sad                   
because my sons lost a very dear friend?

Am I sad
because his mother and father
experience this tragedy?

Am I sad
because his older brother
and younger sister
lost someone dear to them?

Am I sad
because I worry that we didn’t do enough,
weren’t there for him,
when he might have needed us?

An overwhelming sadness. .
. . .like waves of water
that rush in to drown. . .
. . .a sadness that streams from eyes.

Maybe am I sad
because a young person
was so in despair
that he took his own life.

I never met his mother.
While growing up
he lived with his father and step-mother.
I feel a sorrow beyond comprehension
for his mother.
She brought him into this world,
into life.

If a woman loses her husband
she is a widow.
What is she if she loses her son?
. . .a sadness that is so tremendous,
a sadness that overwhelms.

I’m surrounded by memories.
He helped repair my front steps
in the old house.
He helped us move
here to this house.

He practically lived with us
when my sons were in high school.

He ate and showered
and did his laundry at our house.
I bought him Christmas gifts
as if he were my own son.

I remember when he got his driver’s license.
I remember telling him to
always where his seat belt.
Don’t drink and drive.
One would have thought
I was his mother.

We shared all of life’s up and downs. .
. . .like family.

I guess these are the times
when one realizes
that family
has absolutely nothing to do with blood
but everything to do with love.
I loved him
like my own son.

And now he is dead.

As of the writing of this blog post
we do not know
the funeral arrangements.

What can I do?

What can anyone do?

As a pastoral musician
I can only do
that which comes so natural to me.

You know,
this morning on my facebook
I was asking my fb friends
to offer suggestions
on ways to celebrate
30 years in ministry.
Right now,
that doesn’t seem so important anymore.

What can I do?

I can sing
all of those songs
Nick was unable to sing
during his final moments of life.

I can sing today
and the weeks to come.
I will sing during all of Lent
and sing him right into
the Resurrection Promise of Easter Sunday.

. . . .Today. . . .Tomorrow. . .
Forever I will sing. . .

“Softy and tenderly Jesus is calling
calling for you and for me. . . .
. . . Come home. . .”

“Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom . . .”

“ . . .blest are you who weep and morn
for one day you shall laugh. . .”

“. .. . . For to his angels he's given a command
to guard you in all of your ways. . .”

May the angels lead into paradise.
May the martyrs come to welcome you
and take you to the Holy City,
the new and eternal Jerusalem.