When I was in high school, shopping was torture. I didn’t know how to dress my shape and I didn’t have much sense of fashion. Still, one of my favorite memories from that time took place in a department store, looking for prom dresses.
My mother, as we stood among racks of gowns and frocks and sparkles, said to me “I hope life gives you lots of opportunities to wear beautiful dresses.”
Little did I know it at the time, but life was to give me those opportunities: gowns for concerts, cocktail dresses for auditions, modest dresses for church…a few years ago I had to make a concerted effort to buy some casual clothes because most of what I owned was dresses. (Disclosure: this is partly because dressing myself is so much easier when I only have one article of clothing to wear. I still don’t have much sense of fashion).
Being surrounded by beautiful things was on my mind this weekend, when I was preparing to cantor at a shrine in Boston. As I reverenced the altar before mass I was struck by the gleam of the white floors, the shine off the candles, the smooth wood of the pews, and the vibrant colors of the stained glass. This shrine is particularly lovely because the sacred objects are repurposed from closed parishes, bringing together the faith history of generations.
I will spend my life trying to understand why I was called to a life in liturgical ministry. I doubt I will ever fully understand this mysterious gift. But I got a glimpse of the reason when before mass last weekend.
By being a part of the mass, I am surrounded by beauty: of music, of objects, of people, and of prayer. I am part of a beauty that does not need me but that welcomes me. I am a part of a beauty that has existed for centuries and that will sing into eternity. I am part of a beauty that spends itself in sacrifice but is constantly brought back to life.
I am part of beauty ever ancient, ever new, and I am so grateful.