Thursday, December 18, 2008

I live next to Macbeth

Yes, supposedly it's true... Macbeth, along with most of the other old kings of Scotland, is buried across the road from my house. I get to walk past Macbeth every morning. I'm not sure if Lady Macbeth is there. I also get to walk past the effigies of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll every day on my way to work. And this morning I accidentally put a bunch of my papers on top of one of the old Abbot's faces (there are two abbots' effigies in the front of the church), without thinking, on my way to help put the Christmas tree up. No need to worry -- I did apologize... =) I am getting used to the thought of being around graves and gravestones, though. Ghosts, I'm not yet sure about.

There lots of ghost stories around here -- several have reported seeing monks, even having conversations with monks, when there aren't any monks on the island. One of our resident staff members says she saw a white-robed monk and thought "I saw the wrong monk ghost", but then realized that Columban monks wore white.

Also there's the story of the sacristan who came into the abbey late one night to find a young sailor with a trench coat kneeling by the communion table. Out of respect, the sacristan didn't disturb him, but came back the next morning to find a puddle of water and some seaweed that comes only from the deep part of the ocean. Puzzled, he went about his business. Two days later, the body of a young sailor, wearing a trench coat, and with the same kind of seaweed, washed up on the shore of the island and was buried in the cemetery across from my house.

And then the story of St. Oran... which I can't remember at the moment, but it involves St. Oran dying, being buried, years later being dug back up by his followers. When he was dug up, he was still alive but was blaspheming and speaking vilely, so they promptly buried him again. Yes -- he too is buried across the road from my house supposedly.

So last night, when I was walking home alone in the dark and nearly out of power in my torch (aka flashlight), and I heard a yowling... I was quite relieved to find it was just Lily our abbey cat. As much as I think monks are lovely people, especially Columban and Benedictine ones, I'm not terribly keen to see one. ;)

And it's one thing to say you don't believe any of this malarky, and entirely another to not be occasionally flustered at the thought of ghosts, on a dark and windy night, in a place with centuries upon centuries of history.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yesterday was weird...

You ever have those days where everything's just a bit off?

Yesterday was weird.

I remembered I had a phone call to make, an hour after I was suppose to make it.

I remembered I had a song to lead in a workshop, 15 minutes after it was supposed to have started.

I remembered that dinner was 15 minutes earlier than usual, 15 minutes late for the meal.

I remembered that I was supposed to put some Christmas cards in the mail, a half hour after the post office closed for the day.

Yesterday was weird.

Thankfully nothing was too terribly messed up. I did have some apologies to make... and was thankful that everyone was gracious about it.

Here's hoping for a better day today...

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Favorite Season

When people say "What's your favorite season", I usually come up with something traditional like "spring" or "fall"... the trouble with that, though, is that those answers are constantly changing. I don't know what my favorite natural season is.

However, what I really have to bite my tongue to keep from saying when asked that question is "ADVENT!!" I usually save that answer for when I am surrounded by other church nerds like me...

Really, though, I love advent. Actually, I love advent more than Christmas (though I love Christmas, too). This year, especially, as the days get very noticeably shorter and shorter and don't start getting longer until -- you guessed it -- Christmas(ish), I could hardly wait for the time of preparation that means that Christmas is coming. Gee, whoever thought of the image of Christ as the light coming into the darkness must have lived in Scotland.

Also here where I don't have radio or TV or shopping malls or even decorated stores to bombard me with commercialization around Christmas, here where the signs of Christmas come first in the Isaiah readings for morning worships and in the lighting of advent candles on the table in the chapel, here where the supply of good Advent songs nearly outstrips the supply of good Christmas songs, I am having a field day. I love advent.

I think it's the journey that I love. I think it's the waiting, the practice of patience that is providing an exciting challenge. I think it's my English major's love of symbolism that has me wide-eyed, noticing so much more. It's like being on a train ride across the States -- so much to see on the journey that the destination becomes only part (albeit a wonderful part) of the whole.

And this time around, I get to help prepare worships and help other people think through what advent means. And I get to dig around in music, and when I find gems, I get to share them and sing them with other people.

(By the way, check out Sing the Journey if you get a chance -- a Mennonite Hymnal Supplement -- look for My Soul Cries Out, which is the Magnificat to the Star of the County Down tune, and look for Helpless and Hungry, which is a splendid countermelody to What Child is This.)

So if I've inspired excitement for advent in you, go out and get yourself an advent wreath and play with fire a bit and read good things and sing good songs... (but if you do, make sure your candles are 3 purple and 1 pink... not 4 red like over here...) and think of me. =)