Sometimes you will never know the value of a small moment until it becomes a memory.
Each year, at the end of May, this Gospel Tent would appear on a large open field that I passed several times a week on my way to and from various places around town. The meetings took place each night in June, and as fast as it appeared, it disappeared at the end of the month. My kids would love to see it erected because it always signaled that the end of the school year was fast approaching.
Once my kids began to drive and have cell phones, seeing who could spot the tent first each year became a game. Each of us would hope to be the lucky one to get a red light at the intersection, so we could take a picture and send it to the rest of the family in victory!
Now my kids are grown with kids of their own. They don’t live in Horsham anymore, but darn didn’t my son spot it first last summer! This year I am the victor!
I realized that each time I see the tent pitched in that field it brings me back to the years when my kids would be so excited to see it and count the days until the beginning of summer vacation. I have three days left of school, and I am looking forward to summer vacation.
This summer is my summer of small moments. I am going to look for the small things that make me feel happy, or make me wonder, or make an impression on me. It is the little things that become special memories if we take the time to notice them.
Today was the annual May Procession at my school. It brought back memories of my days in Catholic school and the May Processions I took part in as a student. In those days, the May Procession was held on a Sunday afternoon, and you would see hundreds of children from grades 1-8 processing and reciting the Rosary around the large city block that was our church and school campus. Someone would be on a loud speaker leading the prayer so that we would all be in sync with one another. Each girl had on a little chapel veil or “beanie,” and every child carried a set of rosary beads. Parents and neighbors would line the sidewalks to catch a glimpse of the students. It was a very special day.
The procession would eventually lead to the church where we would sing songs and recite prayers praising the Blessed Virgin Mary and honoring her for the courage she had to say, “Yes,” to God and become the mother of Jesus. It was a big deal, and to be given the honor of being the May Queen, the girl who would crown the statue of Mary, was a huge honor.
Today some of the hymns included Latin words which had me feeling a bit nostaglic. Latin was the language I used to say the responses at Mass when I was in 1st and 2nd grade before the changeover to English.
Today also got me thinking about my mom (not that I don’t think about her everyday) and her deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. I may have mentioned in an earlier blog post that my mom would pray a 52 day Rosary novena. That meant that she would pray a rosary every day for 52 days. Whenever anyone in the family was experiencing a particularly challenging time in their lives, Lucy would put them on the novena list. Those prayers were powerful. Sometimes we thought she had a pipline to heaven.
While my mom’s devotion to the Blessed Mother was a year round practice, the month of May was different. May is Mary’s month. On my mom’s dresser was a rather large statue of Mary. During most of the year, Mary shared that dresser with jewelry, random socks, bills, with a little dust thrown in. In May, however, there was a wonderful transformation which took place. The once cluttered dresser would be cleaned and polished and covered with a starched lace runner. Mary would have a prominent place in the center and there would be a small bud vase carefully placed at her feet. Some days there would be Lilies-of-the-Valley, which grew in front of our house, or violets, or small pieces of lilacs nestled in that vase. Often those same flowers would be woven into a small crown that rested on Mary’s head.
I have lost count of the number of May Processions in which I have taken part, but the hymns and prayers never cease to refresh my spirit and renew my faith – a faith instilled in me by mother, Lucy. My hope is that my mom, a most gentle and humble servant, is celebrating with the Blessed Mother in heaven.
Rest is by no means a waste of time. ~ John Lubbock
Yesterday was my last day of the Easter break. I was off on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday. I had been looking forward to these five days off in a row for the longest time. Besides going to church and baking ricotta pie, Easter bread and pineapple stuffing, I scheduled a haircut for Thursday, and a massage for Friday. Easter Sunday we ate dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s newly renovated home (another slice to write). It was lovely. I enjoyed spending time with my nephews and their significant others. My grandkids had a great time hunting for eggs. While I did enjoy all of those things, those “days off” became quiet busy.
So around rolls Monday. I had planned to go to an Aqua Fit class at 9:00 AM, but at 7:00 AM my phone binged with a message from the gym informing me that the class was canceled (oh darn). So I rolled over and went back to sleep. I eventually awoke at 8:30 when my husband got home from the gym. We had breakfast together and watched some morning TV, and I read.
Once Chuck left for work at 11:40, I thought I would go up and shower and get my day “started.” Well, I had to read just one more chapter, and then one more chapter, and then one more. I ended up sitting in the recliner for a few more hours finishing my book with a little nap in between.
I finally got out of my pajamas around 3:00! I showered and felt really great. I got so much done in the few hours I had before Chuck returned home around 6:30. I changed the sheets on my bed, did several loads of laundry, folded and put away laundry that had been hanging out in a basket for several days. I did all this while watching a Hallmark movie that I had recorded on my DVR (so much more efficient since you can fast forward through the commercials).
Giving myself permission to stay in my jammies and read gave my mental health such a boost! I felt accomplished in so many ways – finished a book, finished some laundry, finished a movie. I felt renewed. It made getting up for school this morning much easier, and that good feeling stayed with me all day. Maybe I need to “rest” more often!
“Endings are not always a bad thing, it just means that something new can begin.” ~ Unknown
We have come to the end of the 31 day Slice of Life Challenge. It feels good to have accomplished this feat, yet a relief that it is over. Being a part of this challenge and interacting with so many kind and thoughtful writers is a gift I give myself each March. I hope that this is the beginning of a year filled with writing and building on the ideas I have found or started this month. Thank you for your support, kind words, and fine example. Hope to see you on Tuesdays!
I am still riding the high from last night’s concert. It is true that I am very proud of my son and the work he does with his music students, but it’s more than that. Being a music teacher myself for 23 years, I know the hard work and dedication it takes from students, parents, and teachers alike to put on a concert or show. In an age where kids get a bad rap for constantly playing video games, lacking grit, or having extremely short attention spans, musicians smash that stereotype.
The young men and women on that stage last night have spent countless hours in rehearsals and even more time practicing on their own. They have listened to guest clinicians and seriously taken the critiques given to them and used the tips to improve their technique and sound. They are counter-culture crusaders who revere the history of jazz and work to keep the standards alive.
What I was most struck by last night was the sheer joy on the faces of the musicians, the directors, and the audience. As each ensemble performed the members of the other group looked on with rapt attention and admiration for fellow musicians. The video above is the last chart of the evening which was a combined effort. The ensembles rehearsed this for about 15 minutes, which is incredible when you see and hear the result.
Jazz gives musicians the opportunity to express themselves through improvisation. These brave teenagers stepped out of their comfort zones and stood tall and proud as they took turns improvising. You could see the satisfaction in their body language and hear it through their instruments. I am still smiling today.
These dedicated teens have learned so many skills by being part of a musical ensemble. Some of them will go on to musical careers, some will continue to play for fun, and some may not pick up the instrument again after graduation, but one thing I know for sure is that none of them will forget what they experienced on that stage last night.
“Jazz washes away the dust of every day life.” ~ Art Blakey
This was a very long week of standardized testing, and I couldn’t wait for the end of today to come. I knew that I would be attending a jazz concert where I would see the ensemble my son directs perform ahead of a trip to Pittsburgh next week.
My son, Charlie, is the director of instrumental music at William Tennent HS in Warminster, PA. His ensemble along with the Jazz ensemble from Lower Moreland HS in Huntington Valley, PA were the only two high school jazz ensembles to be chosen to perform at the PMEA – NAFME all East Coast Convention next weekend. Tonight’s concert was a send-off performance for family and friends.
The two ensembles took the stage together and alternated playing standard jazz tunes. They were both amazing! These young men and woman were fearless. They performed together, they played alone, they improvised. More importantly it was obvious they were having a ton of fun. While each ensemble played, the other listened attentively and was tapping along. The ensembles joined on a number to finish out the concert. It was an unbelievable ending to an amazing evening of Jazz.
What was extra special was the fact that my son was the private student of Erin Stroup, the director of Lower Moreland. Charlie took private saxophone lessons with Erin in high school, and then student taught with him while in college. Here they were tonight, standing on the stage as colleagues whose goal is to keep jazz alive and well. They have done a fantastic job lighting that spark within their students because tonight they were on fire. I wish I could figure out how to share the video I shot on my phone!
It was obvious tonight – the future of Jazz is in good hands.