This past Thursday I was privileged to be a member of the choir for the ordination and installation of our diocese's new bishop. Bishops are not installed every day, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal for most people--the first and probably last for me, I'd wager.
Anyway, as this man lay prostrate while we sang the Litany of the Saints, and then as he knelt while about a dozen bishops laid hands on him, I began to think about all the wonderous things Our Lord has allowed me to see over the years since I allowed Him into my life. In fact, I was taken back to the day when I was to journey to the very cathedral in which I sat watching our bishop-elect become our bishop; I recalled that I almost didn't go.
I was to travel to the cathedral for the first time--more than a hundred miles from my home--and when I got to the church (my home parish) where I was to meet the person I would be traveling with, I discovered she was sick and couldn't go. I would have to make this trip into the vast unknown alone--the only one who would be alone, mind you. Not something I cared to do in the least. And so, I went into the church and sat in a pew in the front of our church and told God I wasn't going. "I can't do this," I said, "and if you want me to go, you're going to have to do something about it pretty quick." Immediately--and I mean literally immediately after the words were out of my mouth--I heard the music team practicing in the basement for the next Mass. "Come back to me with all your heart. Don't let fear keep us apart. Long have I waited for you coming home to me and living deeply our new life."
"OK," I said. "I'm going." Sounds pretty amazing, I know. But it gets even more amazing because, what I didn't know then, but do know now, is that the music team had skipped an entire half of a verse in order that I might get that message as was. You see, "Long have I waited for your coming..." is the beginning of the refrain in Hosea, but "Don't let fear keep us apart" is not the end of the verse. There's an entire second line that comes between that part of the verse and the refrain--a nice phrase, but not one that would have punctuated the point as much as what I actually heard. God is amazing. And that was just the beginning. Some time later, as I was thrust into some tribulations, I realized why I had to go alone that day.
What a blessing that He made me go alone--yet, not alone, because, through the music team, He gave me the strength to choose wisely. What would my life be like today had I stayed home that day a little over a decade ago? What other blessings would I have missed?
Now, you might find it unbelievable when I tell you that I almost didn't go to the bishop's installation. I got irritated a couple of days before with some things that were going on, and had decided I could just stay home and watch it on TV like every other Ordinary Joe in the diocese, but then my mother reminded me of something I had once told her (don't you hate it when people do that? :) ) "Don't let something you can't do anything about deprive you of a wonderful experience. You'll regret it later." And you know, she was right (Don't tell her I said that; it'll go to her head. :)). Not only did I realize it the moment the ceremony began, it hit me more fully when our new bishop raised from his knees and was escorted around the altar table to sit in his place as our diocese's chief shepherd. The Holy Spirit's presence was so palpable that words cannot describe it. What a blessing not only to be there, but to be a particpant in the ceremony via the choir.
First, the words of Hosea sung from the basement, then my mother's words urging me at just the right moment. God's blessings are many in the small and in the great. I try to remember that--although, I don't always succeed. Blessings abound. There are the great blessings--those times when we're able to see the fruits of our evangeliztion efforts, or God sends someone with a message that is the perfect message for the perfect situation at the perfect moment in time, or we're privileged to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. But there are also those smaller blessings--those times when we're given three minutes to listen to a favourite song, or we find a stolen moment to read a great story--or a poor one. :) Or to see how the eighty-year-old married couple in the pew in front looks at each other as though they just met when we know they've been married for sixty years.
God showers blessings on us every day, we need but to realize that every moment is a new opportunity to see God's love for us in action.