One of the problems of moving into a new house is that, invariably, something small and insignificant will go wrong with some new feature of the house. Last night, for instance, the third-floor cooling system refused to work and, at 2:00 am, the thermostat registered that my room stood at a balmy 90-degrees. Since I didn't sleep terribly well, I took a long two-mile walk up to Enstein's Bagels and read the paper and had my coffee. I think I'll settle in and watch "The Passion of the Christ" before heading off to a Taize prayer service at 3:00.
I bring up my walk because along the way I mailed my application to take vows as a member of the Society of Jesus. In fact, I probably passed by six or seven mailboxes as I walked but, each time, I couldn't bring myself to mail the letter. This isn't a sign of horrible doubt or fear...just the realization that I held a letter stating my desire to be a vowed religious.
I would like to share the closing paragraph of my letter. To set its context, I framed my application as I frame much of my prayer: the image of me being in an Irish band with Jesus. It may sound hokey, but it really does nourish my prayer life. The "leader" you will see referred to is none other than Jesus himself.
The leader of the band ascends the stage and the crowd goes quiet. The fiddles and flutes have been tuned and the dancers wait for the music to begin. I raise my accordion and look to the leader who gives me a wink. He knows that I will make mistakes, that I will struggle to keep up; on my part, I have fear that I'll screw everyone up, that I will go off time, that I'll forget the tunes. And yet to see him looking at me assures me that I can be a member of the band and that I do have something to contribute to the music and the dance. The piano is struck and the first notes sound out and soon all the room is a swirl of dancers spinning and shouting and laughing and musicians playing and Guinness being poured. I lose myself in the music, finding that even when I make mistakes I am still at my finest because I am doing what I love - I am helping people to dance and I am playing with the One who summons forth the best of my music - and in that I rejoice. I catch the eye of the leader of the band and for the briefest moment, I glimpse an eternity of playing music. Then it is gone and I return to playing, no longer an accordion player who wishes to be in the band, but a musician who has found his voice in the tradition.