Friday, February 24, 2012

A year has gone by…

When a loved one passes on, we wonder how we will get through the next few days, the weeks, the months. And, yet, a year has gone by so swiftly.

My husband, Albert, and I had thirty-five years together and so I have a treasury of memories. But when you have been able to share that much time together, you think that you can cheat the clock, one year at a time. After that much time together, you are each other’s comfort zone, each other’s safety net. Albert and I completed each other. Even now, I instinctively seek to share a thought, a moment, an event, an achievement. And I know that Albert is with me, not just as himself but through the family and friends who have reached out to me, have interacted with me and have been so supportive this year gone by. I have felt the love.

This is why I will not mourn a life that is gone; I will, instead, continue to celebrate a life that was lived.

On behalf of Albert and myself: Thank you all and God Bless.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recorded for posterity…

For memories, reach for the camera. In this digital world, every second of every minute is recorded by someone, somewhere in the world. Time was when one had to rely on memory to fill in the blanks because cameras were possessed by a few, and the developing of film was expensive. Thankfully, time could also blur memories to mellow sepia.

I shared with a niece my recent encounter with a wedding. Pressed into service to accompany the mini-choir, I also had to provide a musical background to the bride’s progress to the altar. Since the entrance and aisle were out of sight, I asked someone to cue me. On signal, I launched into a lusty rendering of ‘Here Comes the Bride’ only to discover a few seconds later that it was the celebrant hurrying back to the sanctuary. I continued, thinking that the bride would follow. Instead, the groom accompanied by his father came into view. I was about to change tracks, when my lookout hissed – ‘she’s on her way!’ I was just grateful that no one seemed to notice. The niece shattered that thought, ‘But it’s all on video – they’ll have a permanent reminder.’ Ouch!!

On flipping through an old photo album I look at pictures of moments that we wanted to record – just that and no more. Excursions, get-togethers, birthdays, events - all frozen in the pose: what happened in what sequence, who did what, who said what, and a whole lot more became family and friendly legend, in several versions, depending on the raconteur.

Digital photography has changed all that; now every ‘unaware’ expression and embarrassing moment (I hate being caught while shoveling food into my mouth) is saved with unnerving accuracy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the digital camera: here is handy and inexpensive access to the impulsive and immediate photograph and also the means to record social and civic matters. The latter has proved that the picture is indeed worth more than a ‘thousand’ protests. There are so many reasons to love the technological advancements in photography. But for personal memories, I prefer la vie en rose.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Blessing

At first glance, it appeared to be a basket full of long coloured candles tied with pretty gold or silver ribbon and gift tagged. A closer look revealed the words: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God keep you free from all harm to your throat and from all other harm besides. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The candles were tied in pairs so that they opened to form a cross. Tomorrow, February 3, will see the annual blessing of throats as the Church commemorates the feast of St. Blaise.

We take so many of our customs for granted; we even overlook them in our hurry to get on with the day and its more pressing timetable. And then, we are jogged into awareness of the saint’s feast-day by the announcement in Church. This season of itchy throats, coughs and hoarseness carries its own reminder that perhaps the pills and potions need a helping hand! But who is St. Blaise and what is his association with throats? How did this custom come about? According to Church history, St. Blaise was the Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, in the Fourth Century and legend has it that he cured a boy who was about to die because of a fishbone stuck in his throat. From the Eighth Century onwards he was invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat. And the custom has been carried through, unbroken, to current times, eighteen centuries later.

For most of us, the church year has two seasons and two major feasts: lent and advent, Easter and Christmas. But a closer look at the liturgical calendar reveals a richness of minor feasts – saints’ days, Our Lady’s days and days commemorating important events and topics. In February alone, we have the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11), Holy Childhood (February 12) and Bible Sunday (February 19). No, I haven’t turned religious all of a sudden; I just have the lovely, informative calendar from the Catholic Communication Centre and it hangs handily beside my computer!