Words that Shine

Words, specifically the written word, has been a gift to me since I was small. A whole new world opened to me when I learned to read. It brought freedom and hope and truth to illuminate my soul. We didn’t really attend church much when I was a child. And by “not much” I mean zero. But, in the second grade, I began attending Catechism at our Catholic parish. And this prompted an increase in attending mass.

Increase? It doesn’t take much to have an increase over zero. But there we were, sitting on those hard wood pews, reading from musty hymnals, and listening to the acoustic guitar. In the late 1970s, an acoustic guitar in the Catholic Church was revolutionary.

I loved it when we sang. Most of the time I did not understand what was happening during the mass, but I could understand the songs. And I could sing. The rest of it was filled with listening and watching, and I wasn’t old enough to receive communion. Oh, but I could sing.

The words in the songs did something in my heart. They gave rise to hope and love to shine. The same thing happened when the priest began to speak. Father Jim was so animated and passionate. His face would get all red when he spoke and I thought his head might burst. His words reverberated off the linoleum floor. Somehow I knew it was passion for God and not anger towards us. I could feel it. I wasn’t afraid when he preached. Instead, it was something else that rose up inside of me. Awe? Joy? Anticipation?

No, I think it was an awareness of God’s holiness. I was too young to put words to what I felt inside. I only knew that Father Jim’s words were shinning a light on something I wanted to see. Something beyond the here and now. Something we could only see with spiritual eyes. And his words made me long to see into the heart of God.

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