I don’t think every person has one singular major turning point in their lives. I’ll be the first to admit that it does happen to a lot of people, but not everyone. For me, my life as been a collection of small turning points, a nudge here, a push there, never anything major, just minor shifts that add up to large changes over time.
There was a moment that I do remember, and it is one that had to be repeated several times before I really got the point. Our Lord know very well that I am a bit of a dolt, and so in His great patience with me, has repeated this event over and over, just to make sure I would get the point.
Ten years ago, I entered the Church through the RCIA process. It was an amazing experience, but I’ll have to save that for another post. When our family came into the Church, it was a full family experience. My daughters and I were baptized together, my wife and I were confirmed, received our first Eucharist, and had our marriage vows blessed all in one night. It was rather like a semi-automatic rifle, one shot right after another with no space in between.
With such madness, it is hard to grab anything more than impressions. It’s not unlike the day one is married, and between the ceremony, the family, the reception, and the honeymoon, it’s hard to gather any real meaning at the time. It is in retrospect that the true meanings begin to play in our lives. It makes you really understand why Mary always held her thoughts in her heart, meditating on them for years afterwards. It was simply too much to understand in any immediate fashion.
My one “deacon experience” happened that night. I remember coming into the Church all dark after having built a fire outside. Watching everyone process in with candles, the light flickering throughout the church gave such a great sense of timelessness, like we were a part of some great, eternal ritual. We then sat in quiet, full of expectation.
Then his voice began to cry out. The deacon began to sing a song, deeply rhythmic, and yet very personal. I did not cry as I watched my daughters get baptized. I did not cry for any of the Sacraments I received that evening.
But when the deacon sang the Exsultet, tears streamed down my face.
This is the night. Oh happy fault, which gained for us so great a Redeemer. This is the night.
I have always known that I must sing this song of gladness. Every year, my heart sings it for me, right along with the deacon. I want to run through the streets belting it out like a team of overzealous Christmas carolers. I come home glowing, bathed in the candlelight of that Easter morning.
I realize it’s months away, and I should have timed this closer to Easter, but if you have never had the chance to make it to the Easter vigil, make time this year.