Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Heart of Worship: Easter Alleluia 2015

Happy 4th Week of Easter and Good Shepherd Sunday!
Since we are about halfway through the Easter season already, I guess it's time for me to give my Easter Alleluia post and Easter season update.

I began this Easter season with a source of great joy for me: lots of food, art, music, and travel! For this Spring Break's adventure, I chose to go to a US city that I had heard and read a lot about: Austin, TX.

Austin has been on my bucket list for a couple of years now due to all the food shows and blogs I have watched and read. And it did not disappoint!

I flew in on Good Friday, and by Friday night I had done and seen many of the things on my "to do list":

Here is a Sample of my nerdy "to do list" for your reference should you ever go to Austin! I did all this and more!

Friday was Good Friday, so I fasted all day knowing that I would have one great meal as soon as I landed in Austin. I started by hopping in my rental car and going to a contemporary art gallery that I had read about online. There was a really cool exhibit from an artist named Tom Sachs that paired hardware with various media....right up my ally!!

Then I took a walk down East 6th Street which is famous for its wild night life, therefore, I took this stroll at 5pm so that I could avoid some of the wild night life ;) I stopped at the infamous Driskill hotel and had a cocktail, then continued my journey to South Congress where I stopped and watched "the bats" on the Congress Street bridge (it's a thing. Millions of bats live under this bridge and then every night around March and April they fly out from under it to migrate. It's kind of impressive. And smelly) and found one of the music venues on my list- The Continental Club- for a night cap and some amazing blues music. 

You can see from my Saturday and Sunday agenda above, I kept busy and fully enjoyed my time in Austin. Saturday night and Sunday AM, I got some good prayer time in. I also had ample time to pray on Good Friday during my travel time. All in all it was a well balanced trip. I must say, I have learned in my 34 years how to plan a great trip for myself!

On Easter Monday, I drove to Odessa, TX to stay with one of my friends from NET who I hadn't seen in 5-6 years since her wedding that I was in. She now has two kids and it was lovely to have some restful, catch-up time before heading back to Austin to fly out on Wed. 

My friend and her husband also own this glorious treasure- a velvet painting of Tom Seleck- which was a highlight of the trip as well and proves why this friend and I are indeed friends.

So, that was my Easter/Spring Break. On Easter morning, I reflected at the little desk in my (adorable!) Air B and B cabin before going to the Austin Cathedral for Mass (not to be confused with the Cathedral of Junk which is also in Austin and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the day before!) on the Resurrection, joy, and New Life that Easter brings. One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of John and Peter running to the tomb, as mentioned in John's Gospel, and I thought of how amazed and overjoyed and probably astonished  Peter and John must've been at the thought of Jesus rising from the dead- something He had alluded to them over and over beforehand but they probably weren't sure of. 

You can see the hope and astonishment in their eyes. I love this image. 

Selfie at the Cathedral of Junk. Not to be confused with where I celebrated the Lord's Resurrection- St. Mary's, Austin Cathedral.

I also thought on Easter Sunday of my friend Dan who has been Resurrected with Christ. This month marks ONE YEAR since I heard the news of him being placed in hospice. I continue to pray to Dan to intercede for us and continue to reflect on the way that he lived the Paschal Mystery with such LOVE.

As many of you know, the readings during the Easter season are from the Acts of the Apostles and are about the Apostles going out and spreading the Good News of Jesus' Paschal Mystery: His suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension. I am always struck by many of these stories: of Peter and John bursting out of jail by the help and grace of the Holy Spirit. By Philip teaching the Ethiopian eunuch about the Gospel and baptizing him, by Saul who is persecuting these men and then has an encounter with Ananias and most importantly, the Lord. 

This latter story was the reading this past Friday and Father gave a homily talking about the trust needed by both of these men, but particularly Ananias. I can imagine how scared Ananias must've been to be told that he needed to go and see someone who had been murdering believers like him. He had to trust in the Lord's plan. He had to put aside his fear and trust.

I am currently at sort of a crossroads myself. I believe that I am going to be entering a time of discernment soon that could necessitate a move. I have to go back to the "Heart of Worship" which are lyrics to a song that were formative in my teens and twenties and remind me constantly what this journey really is all about: Worship and the Lord. Evangelization has always been one of my passions. It is why I loved retreats and discerned time with NET. It is why I discerned religious life with sisters who used Media to spread the Gospel. It is why I loved my grad school classes- reading documents on spreading the faith in our Church gave me life. It is why I teach. And the Lord may be calling me to evangelize in new ways soon, so I need to go back to the Heart of Worship and trust like Ananias and listen to what He is calling me to do. 

Even though this Easter season has been very busy, I believe that is probably what it was like for the apostles, too. Jesus spent 40 quick days with them before ascending and leaving them to fend for themselves. I pray that this Ascension Thursday and (my favorite!!) Pentecost, I will be ready to be sent out to do whatever the Lord might be calling me to do with the new life that He gives me. 
I pray that you all, too, may be able to enter into this Easter Season with much joy and new life!

I also wanted to update some of you on another friend that I was praying for who also lost the battle with cancer recently. Janet Kusterer is the mom of two teens (now young men!) whom I worked with during my years as a youth minster in Leesburg. She and her husband Steve were instrumental in helping me get that ministry started. They were so helpful and supportive during those years and have remained good friends. Janet had battled cancer on and off for 20 years. She died a little over a week ago and I was blessed to join the St. John's community last weekend to pray in her honor. She was a very faithful woman, and her whole family and community have an amazing amount of faith, I have no doubt that she is united with our Lord and with Dan and that they are guiding and watching over us.

Here's a picture from 2011 with Janet, Steve and I. Steve was honored that year for his years as a youth ministry volunteer. 

And lastly, no Easter Alleluia update would be complete without a little update on my birthday :) This year was #34, so I've officially lived longer than Jesus. I'm always grateful that people are so generous with their time and gifts. It makes the celebration so special. This year included some surprise gifts a few days before my bday in the mail from a friend in FL, some hang times in Richmond the weekend before with friends and some TWIN PEAKS art, and on the day of my birthday, my advisory had a cake for the student whom I share a bday with and many students were sweet with cards and bday wishes. I also went out that evening to do some LIVE KARAOKE with a band and in honor of my TX trip had some BBQ with my friends. 

 bday cake in advisory!
 Meeting Lucy from Twin Peaks in Richmond!
Friends at Hill Country BBQ before the Live Karaoke!

All in all a GREAT first half of the Easter season with many blessings, joys, and things to reflect/pray on. 

May the rest of our Easter Season be blessed as we journey towards the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost!