Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Really Matters

Thursday greetings on an overcast day here in the Midwest.

Did you know that Gotta Sing Gotta Pray has its own Facebook page? Check it out. And please "like" it if you have not already!

Often people choose to comment on that page instead of the comments box here on the blog page.

Yesterday, one of my colleagues, Jennifer Odegard, posted this response to yesterday's blog post.

"Thanks for this, Jerry. Today I noticed the picture-perfect weather, the joy of my youngest dog chasing bubbles in my yard, the gracious manners of a differently-abled young man who was in my house as a guest with his mom and another friend last night, the way my never-clean-enough-for-me-under-construction home was able to comfortably shelter dear friends, and the sweet breath of a 10 week old puppy who traveled over an ocean to be with her new family. Life is hard sometimes, but the beauty wins if we are smart enough to get out of our own way and notice it."

Thanks, Jen, for this reminder.

This morning, after my usual spin class and routine at the gym, I decided to stop on my way to the office to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks. When I went to pay for the coffee (I drink Grande Dark Roast, btw), I noticed the Starbucks gift card in my wallet and I remembered suddenly where it came from.

A few weeks ago, on an early Sunday morning, I got a frantic text message from the music director at my new parish, Old Saint Patrick's. The message said that she had an emergency with the family dog and was at the vet's office, unable to get to the church to play for the 9:30 A.M. Mass. It was 8:30 when I received the message. She was asking me to play the Mass for her. She immediately sent the music list; I was unfamiliar with three of the pieces, so there was a little bit of panic as I agreed to play the Mass.

It all went so well, largely due to the coolheadedness of the musicians who minister there regularly. Frankly, I had a great time and was amazed, sitting "up front" for the first time, at how strong the assembly singing is in the parish. Loved every minute of it.

When I returned from the NPM convention last Friday, I saw a piece of mail from Old Saint Patrick's. I thought it was the stewardship envelopes I was waiting for. I opened the envelope and found a very nice thank you card, with expressions of gratitude written by my friend the music director, as well as the woman who led the choir the morning I filled in. There was a check in the card, which was a very kind, but un-needed gesture. And then there was one other thing in the card:

When I found it again in my wallet this morning, I found myself so grateful for these folks who had gone the extra mile in thanking me.

One other colleague here at the office also posted something on Facebook earlier this week, which really took my breath away. Here you go:

"Social experiment: I am second in line at the grocery store. I have five items and place my items on the belt. I place a divider in front of my items to separate them from the customer in front of me. The woman behind me has a carton of half and half. She proceeds to tell me to use a divider for my items in order to separate them from her ONE item. I then tell her to help herself to a divider to do the same (in so many words) when she suddenly gets irritated and starts to complain. I do it anyway and all I could do was laugh while she kept making faces that even the woman in front of me and the cashier couldn't believe why this woman was being so petty. It was my turn to pay for my items and I then decide to "pay it forward" and tell the cashier to include the charge for the woman's half and half. The woman was so perplexed and starts to ask why I did it. I said, "have a nice day" and the woman in front of me tells her to just be grateful and say thank you. In the end, I was perplexed but also hopeful that I turned this incident into a lesson for the woman who obviously was bothered by something so petty."

I work with some amazing people. I am blessed to have experienced the kindnesses and the experiences of these women. I hope some of their kindnesses and their approaches to life reach more deeply into my own heart.

How are you doing with noticing the joy of the Gospel?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.