Wednesday
February 18

Have You Too Gone Crazy?

By kmshultz

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season similar to Advent in the sense that it is observed in an almost commercial way by people who don’t necessarily identify as Christians. During Advent, stores abound with Advent calendars that enable us to wait with expectation, not for the coming birth of Jesus, but for the time when we can open each cardboard window and devour the chocolate it conceals. When Lent comes along, we try to make up for this daily treat by refusing to eat chocolate for forty days and we wait with eager anticipation for Easter when we can resurrect our sweet tooth, binging on Easter candy until we ascend into a sugar high. Or we give up Facebook in an attempt to be more productive with our time or avoid a certain food in order to lose weight. In all of these things that we give up, we have this very individualistic focus, of trying to improve ourselves in a way that will impress others, despite the fact that Lent starts with the reading from Matthew that tells us to “beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them”. It becomes a competition in self-control, where we gauge our own “fasting” against that of others. The few days before Ash Wednesday are abuzz with people asking, “what are you giving up for Lent?” and as the season progresses, you always know which people have given up dessert because they glare at you if you even mention the word ‘cookie’. And I hate that. I hate that Lent becomes just another diet plan. Traditionally, Lent is a time of drawing closer to God through prayer, fasting, and serving others but in America today, it seems we’ve dropped the parts about God and others and chosen to just pay attention to the parts about ourselves. But I think one of the most beautiful things about the season of Lent is how it brings a worship community together. Originally, Lent was a time where the community gathered in support around those preparing for baptism, and today Lent is one of the only seasons in the church year where it feels like church extends outside the boundaries of Sunday morning. For one thing, Lent is the only season (apart from Christmas) where people not only come to church on a day that is not Sunday, but they expect that there will be services on a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday, and a Saturday during the season of Lent. But the season also carries a sense of intentionality with it that follows us outside the church walls. Fasting or “giving up” something can remind us of this intentionality but it can so easily become self-centered as well. I always picture Lent as a clearing out of my life, a sort of spring-cleaning, where I create openings for God to move into. Others may feel differently, but giving up desserts does not open up space for God in my life. It usually just distracts me even more, draining my energy and will power as I try to exercise constant self-control. In a weird, backwards fashion, it seems that the things we give up most often during Lent actually bring more distractions and problems—it builds more barriers between us and God, not less.
There’s a Mary Oliver poem, The Sun, that ends by asking, “do you think there is anywhere, in any / language, / a word billowing enough / for the pleasure / that fills you, / as the sun / reaches out, / as it warms you / as you stand there, / empty-handed—/ or have you too / turned from this world— / or have you too / gone crazy / for power, / for things?”
This is my vision of Lent. We don’t have a word billowing enough for the feeling of basking in God’s presence but we stand in the glow anyway, empty-handed and mystified, searching for the right way to pray, striving to turn to—and not from—this world, to not go crazy for power, for things. And God reaches out and meets us where we are. God flows into the open spaces in our lives and reminds us why we believe, why we follow, why we stand here empty-handed. Because God loves this world so much that God sends a Son, God’s only Son, to die so that we may live, to scoop up our broken lives and make them whole, to take us by the hand and pull us away from our power, our things, and usher us out into the billowing light of God. A gift like that can’t be comprehended in the space vacated by chocolate but we have forty days stretched out ahead of us, unbroken and full of open spaces. Let’s enter them with intention, arms outstretched and hands empty, letting God move into the open spaces.

Wednesday
February 18

Happy Lent

By cbjones8

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  I went to bed with a belly full of pancakes and my favorite Maple syrup after an evening of fellowship and fun.  This morning, in my normal morning text with my parents, my dad (who is a United Methodist Pastor and probably one of the silliest people ever) began the morning with a “Happy Lent” text.  This struck me.  I responded with “do people even say that?”

Lent is so often thought of as a season of deprivation.  We must sacrifice something in our lives in a theoretical effort to get closer to God.  Over the years I have tried to get creative with this, besides the usual giving up X food treat for 40 days.  One year I gave up doing my hair or make up, another year I gave up secular Music all together.  Never was I particularly excited to begin the season of lent. Rather some what melancholy.  It is a reflective season yes, but that does not mean it needs to feel like a season of depravity.

This year, I am not giving anything up.  I am adding something.  I’m changing my attitude about the season.  I want to get closer to God, and that is a bit hard if we are even the slightest bit resentful of the season.  Instead of giving up (there is no positive language for such an action) I am going to consciously set apart a chunk of my morning routine to sit in prayer.  No rushed devotion as I so often do each morning, but actual time in reflective prayer.  As it is only the first morning, I must say I feel markedly different.  Despite the stresses of school work and the million things on my to do list, I feel at peace.  Most importantly, I am excited for this season of Lent and I am excited for this journey on which I am beginning to embark.

Monday
February 16

Coming Together

By jdingus

This weekend I had the absolute joy of being sent to Coming Together 7, a conference about interfaith ministry at Yale University. I came together with students from all over the country and many different faith traditions to talk about the joys and challenges of interfaith work, and to build relationships with across geographical and faith boundaries.

It was a beautiful couple of days. I made so many new connections, and had deep learning conversations with the other students. I learned a lot about Judaism and Islam, particularly; attending a Jummah prayer service and a Shabbat service. From the speakers to the workshops to the magic moments of connection when two people were able to find common ground, it was an incredibly powerful and exhilarating experience.

One of the moments that struck me was a conversation I had during “Speed-Faithing.” Like speed dating, in speed faithing we stood across from a partner and had a 2-minute conversation answering a question posed by the facilitator, before moving to a new partner. In one of the conversations we were asked to talk about our scriptures or holy books and how they were meaningful for us. Raised Unitarian Universalist, I do not have a specific scripture that informs my faith. Struggling to answer the question, I thought about when I was little and, ignoring the fact that Christians also have hymnals, I thought that Christianity had the Bible, and UUs had our hymnal, “Singing the Living Tradition.”

And for me, it does sort of work this way. The words and melodies of my UU hymns resonate with me deeply. I sing them or say them in my head to calm myself down or build up courage. (I do not like going to the doctor, especially the blood pressure part, so every time I have to do that, I sing “Meditation on Breathing” in my head.) I exegete the lyrics when I preach and rely on the messages of those lyrics to shape my sermons.

Coming home from Coming Together 7 I was so inspired by the deep faith of the other participants. Whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Sikh or Unitarian Universalist, these people had clear inspiring love for their own faith and for the work of interfaith dialogue. Their passion reminded me of the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, “There’s a River Flowing in my Soul.” In the second to last verse we sing:

There’s a river flowing in my soul,

There’s a river flowing in my soul,

And I see in you what I feel in me,

There’s a river flowing in my soul.

Working and worshipping with people of all different faiths and backgrounds, I saw in them what I felt in myself: A deep love for their own tradition; a deep respect for others’ traditions; and a deep need to promote peace and understanding between traditions. I believe that acknowledging this sameness is the first step to truly working together despite our differences. I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity and am thoroughly jazzed to do more for interfaith work on BU’s campus.

Thursday
February 12

Crying Out in the Wilderness

By kmshultz

In the email devotional I’ve been helping to put together for Lent, one of the weeks focuses on pilgrimage. I’ve been thinking about how the experiences in my own life that I would qualify as a pilgrimage always take place in the wilderness. While some people may go on pilgrimages to cities or temples or cathedrals, I go to cathedrals of rock and snow, towering peaks stretching to the sky above valleys brushed with wildflowers. I look to the wilderness as a place of renewal and of oneness with the Creator. When I push my body to its limits, muscles straining up one last hill, dirt staining the palms of my hands, a breeze caressing my cheeks, the sky opening up into a panorama of splendor, I can feel my soul surge through my chest. I feel like God is wrapping me up in a blanket of awe, like I’m going where God is calling me to go. My hours out on the trail blend into one long journey, an eternal pilgrimage into the Divine.

But I don’t want the wilderness to be the only place I experience God. While nothing can fill me up quite like a day on the trail among flowing water and Douglas firs, I don’t want to have to step outside my life, to retreat into the woods away from other people in order to find God. I live in the city and the Cascade peaks I love are thousands of miles away. There is noise and distraction here, cars and trains, exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. I can’t step outside my backdoor and onto the trail anymore. But there is a river on the other side of Storrow Drive and sometimes when the sun sets into the clouds above Commonwealth Avenue, it feels like the world is going to split open in wonder. The full moon still hangs in the sky above the Prudential Center and in the fall, the wind can make the ivy-covered buildings dance in waves of soft red and brown. On Sunday mornings, there are moments when the streets echo with silence and the sound of my footsteps seems to hang suspended in the air like snowflakes. When the cold descends on the city like a curse, the wind tips my head back and reminds me to accept it like a cure. Because sometimes I can hear the whispers of the Spirit in the billowing of my jacket against my cheeks and when I can coax a smile out of a passing stranger, it feels like an answered prayer. The graffiti scratched into the chairs and windows on the T reminds me that we’re all still looking for a way to leave our mark on the world, to find where God is calling us to go. And the hawk that swooped over my head last fall reminded me of the voice of one calling out in the wilderness. It doesn’t come as naturally to me, but I’m starting to find God in the noise of this city, in the roaring of highways and beeping of crosswalks, in the thick accents and the train cars that feel like they’ve been vacuum-packed, in the sheer force of life being lived on every street corner.

I still feel drawn toward the wide-open spaces of my mountain valley, pulled toward a space so big that only God can fill it. But I’m learning to find wide-open spaces in the shadow of brick buildings, to write prayers on pavement instead of tree bark, to hear God in the trundling of trolley cars as much as in the bubbling of creeks, to look forward to where I’m going instead of back to where I’ve been. I’m learning to find wilderness where I am.

Wednesday
February 11

The Flu

By cbjones8

Oh it is the season.  The season where everyone gets sick.  I am now on my fourth day of the flu, and it has not been fun.  Having gone now to two doctors who have told me there is nothing they can do, I am frustrated.  Why is there no instant fix?  I need to be a person again!  Why can’t they understand that I have things I need to do!

 

Gee….I am sure God feels the way our doctors often do.  They understand our struggles, but they also understand there is no instant fix.  My body needs time to heal, and I know it will. My frustration at the doctors is really about my inability to be patient (or even be a good patient).

 

God’s timing is similar.  As I whine and fuss at God for not healing me faster, maybe there is a lesson here.  Not my time, but Gods.  It doesn’t matter that I want something now.  We all want something from God right now.

Life brings us unexpected turns.  Life happens.  It is easy to blame God, and get mad when he doesn’t miraculously solve all of our problems.  But then again, God is like a parent.  What good would it have done us if our parents had done everything for us?  We would never have learned.

 

I know Eventually I will feel better.  I know that in my temporary suffering, it is not my fault, nor is it God’s fault.  Perhaps it is to teach me to listen to my body, or to take time for myself.  Too often I see particularly clergy members not take care of themselves for the sake of others. Perhaps this is a lesson we can all learn from.  There is no shame in saying that you need to rest.  There is also no blaming God when things don’t go our way.  After all, it is not our life to control.  For once we place our lives in God’s hands, everything will always work out in the end.  Even if we have no idea what God is doing in the mean time.  And most especially when we have no idea what the end really is.

Amen.

Monday
February 9

Snow

By iquillen

“It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful.

The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.”

-St. Francis of Assisi

 

After living in the Boston Area for most of my life, I thought I had become accustomed to snow. I looked forward to that one day each year when I woke up to witness a downy fleece blanketing the sidewalk outside my house. Snowflakes would spiral and gently cover the trees like feathers, and I would find pleasure in digging out the front steps with a tiny shovel. As the years passed, that small task grew to helping shovel our own driveway and my next-door neighbor’s. And even though the ploughs that swept the streets always seemed to bring in the iciest, damp snow that resisted all attempts to be moved, I waited hopefully for the experience of wonder and peace that came with the snow.

As I write this post now, a different kind of wonder accompanies the one I just wrote about. It is a wonder mixed with amazement, incredulity, and more than a little frustration. Three snowstorms in the span of a few weeks, numerous missed days of school, and the fact that there hasn’t been a staff meeting for Marsh yet give some cause for anxiety, to say the least. Amidst worrying about how to make up classes, how to travel around a city where some snow banks are as tall as I am, and simply figuring out how to spend time on a snow day, I am beginning to question the beauty in something that can be so disruptive in our everyday routine.

But perhaps I am thinking about this too gloomily. Over the past few days, I have read words of encouragement that have created pause among storms of flurries. The first words came from the colorful cards that students had created, thanking BU Facilities for their tireless work and dedication to keep an entire campus clear and free of snow. For their efforts, and those of all the workers who have come in on the Charles River and Medical Campuses these past few weeks, I am truly grateful. Many have spent hours working for the benefit and safety of students, faculty, and staff. In light of that, I should hardly complain about getting another day off or bemoan making up for lost time.

The second piece of encouragement came from Soren and Dean Hill. In an email and in a sermon, respectively, they reminded me that “Snow days are a gift from the divine,” and that they provide “a gracious and liberating pause.” The sermon continued: “Grace is not something you do, it is something that happens to you. Love is not something you own, it is something you receive and return. And sin is not taking what is offered.” Snow offers a gift that so often is ignored or taken for granted (and no, I don’t mean the headache that many adults and teenagers alike may experience shoveling it). It gives a moment to spend time among warmth, in place or in company. It forces us to stop fretting about the daily cycle of going to class, rushing from place to place, and agonizing about not getting enough sleep (I hope). Snow days grant us grace from many of our usual commitments, and they create moments for rest. It can be physical rest or mental rest, but importantly they open space and time for spiritual rest as well. There is something to be said for gazing outside at snowflakes swirling in the wind, attempting to sled with friends without hills on snow that isn’t packed enough to slide on, and starting the occasional snowball fight that lasts for hours. And despite all the assignments that must be made up and all the tasks that must be accomplished, are such moments of living in the present spirit not worth it?

The last words are the ones that opened this post, taken from one of St. Francis’ poems. Waking up each day in the wintery months to the falling crystals outside the window remains an enduring memory of my childhood excitement and anticipation. Even now, a thrill still passes through me when I walk outside and shield myself from the specks of playful cold. It feels easy to give thanks for the divine in the gift of snow as it falls on the earth. It is only now, with multiple cold fronts, snow days, and time lost among drifts of snowflakes, that the second part of St. Francis’ poem comes to light. As we move forward slowly through the upcoming days and struggle through snowbanks, may we find the beauty of this cold, wintry season. And may we be moved to embrace the Divine grace imbued in every snowflake.

Wednesday
February 4

Rain City

By kmshultz

Since the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl on Sunday, I have been trying and failing to think of something theological to write this blog post on. So I’m not going to. Instead, I’d like to talk about sports.

The reason I love the world of sports so much is because it celebrates human triumphs—it’s a world where people can overcome adversity, where the place you come from shapes who you are but doesn’t determine where you can go, where dreams can come true. I think the reason why losses are so difficult is because we allow ourselves to dream—to really dream. In the midst of pain and disease and famine and death and war, sports provide this tiny window of miracle, of tangible “could be”s. We put so much of ourselves into this dream, wishing and hoping and praying, that a tiny part of ourselves dies if those dreams come crashing down. And even though there will always be another game, another championship, another opportunity, wounds like that are permanent. The throbbing slowly fades into numbness and that numbness becomes part of who we are—it’s part of where we come from and it fuels us towards where we can go.

These experiences bond us together as it becomes us against the world.

As I’ve walked through this city over the past three days, my favorite Seahawks beanie snug against my ears, I’ve entered a polarized world. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion and my clothing seems to be an open invitation for people to talk at me. A few offer words of consolation or encouragement while most act as if they’ve smelled blood.

I realized today that I feel like I am caught in the center of a religious war where my clothing seems to spark hatred for everything that I am. In some ways, I suppose, sports is a kind of religion: we watch our gods take on the gods of others, engage in ritualized superstition, brand ourselves with icons, strive for perfection, and pour ourselves into a group identity, seeking affirmation from others of the same sect. We have governing bodies and send out people to gather new recruits; different affiliations can lead to supposedly irreconcilable differences; and despite our imperfections we still have the audacity to believe we can improve ourselves. I find this religious quality of sports disturbing, as it seems we are setting up modern idols in our midst. Even so, with all the issues I may have with the system—the politics, the sheer aggression and violence, the polarization of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ I still can’t help but love the game of football and what it strives to be. It can be brutal, but it can also be beautiful, a carefully choreographed dance that stretches the limits of the human body, that seems to defy the laws of physics, that can turn nobodies into somebodies within ten seconds. This is a game of the highest highs and the lowest lows, a game where there’s always next year no matter what happened in this one. Some people call it incomprehensible and I can’t blame them, but I still can’t tear myself away. Because this is the game that taught me to love where I come from, that gave me an ‘us’ when I thought I was facing the world alone, that showed me the dangers of religion but also the joys, that took the rainy city I love and showed it to the rest of the world, that took the ones no one wanted and turned them into a family, a band of brothers, a legion. This is the game of my rain city’s redemption and, no matter what the critics say, this hat I’m wearing snug against my ears is not going anywhere. Because it represents so much more than just a team and holds so much more than just a logo.

Sunday
December 21

Candlelight

By iquillen

The semester has drawn to a close. Final exams are mercifully over, and I can imagine that the lights of the dorms have gone out now that people have left for break. It seems fitting that as the daylight trickled out, so did the people and friends I’ve met this semester. I have only been at home for a day, yet I already miss the light and warmth that they created in my life this past semester. They carry that light with them as they leave, wherever they go.

When I think about the light of my friends and those whom I care about, I am instinctively drawn to the image of a candle. I attended a study retreat at Marsh Chapel during the reading period, and to remind myself of my intentions Brother Larry gave me a bell and an electric candle. While both of these gifts helped me direct my focus to studying, for some reason I couldn’t turn the candle off. No matter how many times I flicked the switch at the base, the electric light would not extinguish. I mentioned this to a close friend, and she joked, “You can’t stop studying until the candle goes out!” The electric candle remained lit for several days through the week of finals. Luckily, I didn’t need to study for that much time.

I also attended a service for Sanctuary during the week of finals. There came a time during the service when anyone could light a candle and share a moment of presence with other people. I went up and tried lighting one. Then another one. Then still another one. I must have tried and failed to light at least five candles when a woman, Joe, came and helped me. As everyone around us sang the words to the song “Sanctuary,” she patiently took and held candles, even holding one directly above the flame. After several candles and a considerable amount of melted wax, we lit one. In that moment, I felt both gratitude and spiritually present with her, someone whom I had only just met.

Sharing the light that we create with each other in friendship and company may take time, many attempts, and a great degree of patience, like in my experience at Sanctuary. Yet like the electric candle, the bonds that we form when we brighten each other’s lives with our care and compassion leave lasting imprints and are difficult to extinguish. I have tried to appreciate this in my work at Marsh Chapel, as mushy or cliché as it may sound. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or conflicted, to forget that there are people present who can share their light with you to lift your spirits.

For the season of Advent, two of my colleagues from Marsh, Jessica and Kasey, put together a series of Sustainable Advent Devotionals. Each one has a piece of scripture, a reflection, and a practice that one can do during the season. One of my favorites quoted John 8, verse 12: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ ” My fellow Marsh Associate Jaimie wrote this in her reflection on this verse:

“Think for a second about the person who is “the light of the world” for you. It could be a child, a parent, a friend, or a partner; whomever this person is I guarantee they do not hear often enough that they are loved and appreciated. Be intentional and remind those “light” people in your life how much they mean to you, because when we love the light in people we are praising the light of God.”

I hope to take her words to heart. Each of us carries a light of the Divine with them, and to embrace and express that we see it every day celebrates the life and light that God created. May we continue to share this candlelight warmth that radiates from each of us in the upcoming year.

Sunday
December 14

When the Song of the Angels is Stilled

By kmshultz

Advent, like the four day study period before finals week, is a time of waiting and anticipation. The only difference is that where Advent is typically a season of joyful expectation, study period is a time of frantic dread as all the paper deadlines and test dates that have—up to this point—been reasonably spaced out are suddenly condensed into a three-day period of woe. As the library turns into a 24-hour triage center and anyone who makes noise or even breathes too loudly is at risk of being labeled a menace to society, it can be easy to lose perspective. Where a 4-6 page paper causes mild anxiety in a normal week, under the glare of reading period, it can feel like a death sentence.

Luckily, this weekend, Brother Larry, our chaplain for community life, hosted a study retreat at the chapel. And so, weighed down by book bags, coats, and a massive to-do list, we all arrived at 8:30 am Saturday morning for breakfast, devotional jumping jacks, and a prayer by Howard Thurman before plunging into our studies. We stopped throughout the day for food, fellowship, and more jumping jacks, crossing tasks and assignments off the large to-do lists hanging on the walls as we went along. In addition to an electric candle, we each received a bell to wear around our necks and their bright sounds echoed off the stone walls, accompanying the soft pad of our feet as we took breaks to make tea and hot chocolate or to do jumping jacks to keep ourselves from falling asleep. We kept the candles close, perched atop computers or resting on knees, a constant reminder of light and hope even as the shadows grew long outside, quickly plunging us into the darkness of night.

As I left the chapel last night at 10 pm, breathing in the brisk winter air, the Howard Thurman prayer we said throughout the day echoed in my head:

 

When the song of the angels is stilled

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and the princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among people,

To make music in the heart.

 

There are so many people in this world whom we are called to serve and minister the work of Christmas to, but when we arrived at this retreat, we were all pretty broken, weighed down by all the things we hadn’t done yet. So when Larry gave us bells to make us harder to lose, fed us six meals plus desserts in two days, and released us from the stagnant atmosphere of the library by opening up the chapel to us, he helped patch us back together. As we studied in silent community, we gave each other a support system, celebrating our successes with the ringing of bells as we methodically checked off things from our lists. Though the song of the angels was stilled, we sang taizé chants in a dimly lit room and by the time we left, we had found some measure of peace, remembering how to make music in our hearts.

In this season of frantic dread, this retreat restored to us our joyful anticipation and grounded us in the knowledge of God’s presence around and within us. In our studying and in our writing, in our praying and our singing, our bells rang with joy and our electric candles flickered, heralding the coming of the Light of the World.

Sunday
December 7

ASL and Deaf Mass

By jlbishop

When I was 13 I fell in love with American Sign Language. I don’t know why or what sparked my passion but I remember telling my mom how badly I wanted to learn it. Unfortunately I was too young to take the community center’s class and as I got older, I was too busy. My passion never left when I entered college but I still never had the opportunity to fit it into my schedule at my old university. But then I attended BU and became friends with a lot of Deaf Studies majors and minors and even a Grad student in Deaf Education. They all encouraged me to sign up for an ASL 1 class. So I did, and my passion has grown a hundredfold.

I loved ASL 1 and now love ASL 2, which I’m in currently. I have been blessed to have the same professor for 1 and 2 and will have him again for ASL 3 next semester. ASL is a language unlike any other. The hands, body, and face serve as nouns, pronouns, subjects, verbs, grammar, vocabulary and everything else that makes up a language. It’s not a spoken language and yet it speaks volumes. Stories told in this language are more passionate and expressive than I’ve ever witnessed. A simple, funny story about my professor’s dog has me laughing uncontrollably. Stories are executed perfectly, and I feel like I’m there in that moment. This is just one magical quality of ASL that makes me love it even more.

Today my classmate and I had the opportunity to attend a Deaf Catholic Mass at Sacred Heart in Newton, MA. The priest that celebrates it is Deaf and signs the entire Mass while an interpreter interprets it. Deaf Parishioners sign the readings and psalms and the Deaf deacon signed the homily. Attending this Mass was unlike any Catholic Mass I’ve been to. Attendance is small (about 30) but the presence in the church is strong. And do not be fooled, Deaf Mass is actually pretty loud. People continue having conversations in ASL during the Mass and due to verbal markers that are part of the grammar of ASL, children laughing, and babies crying/cooing, it gets quite noisy during the service. And I love it. The Deaf community at this church is a vibrant one, and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and witnessing the widespread joy and enthusiasm and love of the Lord that permeates this community.

As I mentioned earlier about ASL’s unique ability to tell passionate and expressive stories, the readings today at Mass were no different. They had a reading from the Prophet Isaiah that touched me in a way that most Bible verses don’t. The person signing the story made it come alive, and I felt like I was there. The entire Mass felt that way: alive and passionate. I truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit working in this community and working in my heart. Sometimes Catholic Mass can seem so monotonous with unenthusiastic parishioners in the pews half saying the responses that it loses my interest and attention quickly. Not this mass though, and I was excited to feel my passion for the Lord and my faith return, thanks to the vibrant and joyful community at the Deaf Mass. ASL and the Deaf Community have captured my heart, and I’m excited to see where I will incorporate them into my life.