The day began with a walk to a local church where the art show was being held. The artist's were already there. Busy setting up. Organizing their displays. By 10 we were ready. A co-worker and I decided to take in the service -- the church had graciously offered their space for the show and I wanted to say thank-you.
I grew up Catholic. Grew up believing the giant Hand of God lay suspended in the sky ready and waiting to come barrelling down upon my head for the tiniest infraction. In my child's lexicon, God was all-seeing, all-knowing and God didn't Love as much as God wanted control. He wanted me to be a 'good girl'.
I wanted to love and be loved by God but according to my world, I was never good enough. I was always on the other side of having God's love -- whatever that 'other side' was.
Walking into the sacistry yesterday was a different story. God was visible in the friendship, the invitation to 'grab a cup of coffee and have a seat' that greeted every visitor. Those who attend the church regularly had the option of wearing a pre-printed name tag while visitors were invited to print their first name on a stick-on tag -- so people can call you by name, one of the greeters told me.
The offering was made at the beginning with the children wandering through the aisles carrying the offering plates. Chaos. Laughter. Lightness of being. There was no crucifix with Jesus hanging suspended, blood dripping from his wounds. There was no statuary, no candles burning in alcoves, no hushed reverence filled with sliding of rosary beads through penitent fingers and the rustling silk of a priest's robes and the smell of burning incense. God was visible in the laughter, the smiles, the conversation.
When the service began, the minister invited everyone to take a moment, listen to a piece of music being played on the organ, and to meditate, to listen with hands cupped beside their ears to what they don't normally hear in the busy-ness of everyday living.
"Today is about celebrating music," he said. "We're going to play three different pieces of organ music, one light and lyrical, the next sombre and contemplative. A Bach and a Beethoven. The third piece will put us in the mood for our street festival. A unique version of Van Morrison's C'mon Baby Light My Fire."
Huh? C'mon Baby Light My Fire? Since when was that 'religious'?
"All creation is a reflection of God's majesty," said the minister. "I invite you to listen to each piece. Close your eyes, sink into the notes and let your mind flow into the music. We are all reflections of God. He is here among us in our beings."
He is here among us.
God was in the art show. He was reflected on the smiles of Sandra, a sixty-five year old woman who stayed at the shelter for two years and who recently moved into an apartment of her own. "I sold one," she said to me, her body bouncing up and down as much as her arthritic bones could carry her. "Someone bought one of my pieces!"
God was evident when a woman came up and with her purchase asked, "Wow! What can I do? Can I make a donation? Can I come in and volunteer?"
And God was evident in a child's face when Joe, our resident guitar player, asked a little girl in a pink dress, "Can I play you a tune?"
She smiled. Nodded her head up and down, bounced on the toes of her little pink sandals and clapped her hands.
Joe began to play, "You are my sunshine" and she began to twirl. The hem of her pink dress floated out around her like a church bell as her tiny body began to spin slowly around the room. She kept dancing, spinning and weaving to the music, her arms extended from her sides. A tiny Sufi dancer twirling endlessly to the rhythm of the beat.
It was a magnificent day filled with the joy of watching people who didn't believe they made a difference find the difference they make in the sharing of their gifts and talents.
It was a day filled with reverence, with inspiration, with magnificence.
It was a day in which each and everyone, both artists and attendees, participated in the power of the human spirit to express their birthright of being Godlike creations; unique, magnificent, divine. God was in our beings. He always is.
The question is: Are you celebrating your birthright? Are you expressing your Godlike qualities today?