FAITH / family / LIVING WELL

lessons in mass

04.25.11

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

We went to Easter Mass this morning. Actually, our family is not Catholic, but often times we run pretty close and feel pretty content among the liturgy and ceremony. On these holiest of holy days, we enjoy the pomp and circumstance, and often find ourselves walking through the doors of my grandmother's catholic church. 

As I sat there this morning, wrangling a squirming baby, watching families file in, searching for enough seats together in a row, I enjoyed seeing the blending of generations. The constant whine of a baby somewhere in the church, the chatter of teenagers, the dainty nose-blow of the petite old lady in front of me.

It is something we don't get enough of. This mixing. This being together, shoulder to shoulder with someone half or twice our age. We have so much to learn from each other.

But the longer I sat there, and the more time I had to people-watch, I was struck by the teens and younger people around me. I watched the boy in front of me, blasting through levels of a snowboarding game on his phone. I watched the girl in the pew just down from our family, aimlessly scrolling her thumb back and forth across screen after screen of iphone apps while she uncomfortably glanced around the church and bobbed her crossed leg. 

A boy across from me was sending a last-minute text. 

Beside him a lady, greying and old, sat. And did nothing. She flipped through the missal, smiled at people as they found their seats, stared up at the light streaming through the stained-glass windows. 

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

Another man, closer to the front was kneeling, head in his hands. Doing what I imagine was quieting his heart and mind for the coming celebratory service. 

And it occured to me, in those moments how nice it must be to be part of that generation. To not be bogged down and distracted by apps, and texts, and emails. To be completely unavailable for whole chunks of time. To have no anxiety over what you're missing while you're "away". No worry that someone may have wanted you and you weren't there to answer the call. To have no other "world" to check in to. To be fully present in the life you are living. 

The truth is, our reality is much different than theirs. And for most of us, life requires us to be connected in some way. And for many of us, this connecting is completely enjoyable and good. But just for a moment, don't you ever wish you could turn it all off? And just experience life that much more simply? To know what it's like to be unavailable, and undistracted?

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

There is something to be learned, I believe. If nothing else, those moments in the pews reminded me to take chunks of time and turn off. To disconnect. And as overused as the saying is, to be more present.  

And like the incense of the Easter Mass that clung to our clothes as we left the church, I hope this lesson clings to my heart and mind as I step back into my life this week. 

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

We went to Easter Mass this morning. Actually, our family is not Catholic, but often times we run pretty close and feel pretty content among the liturgy and ceremony. On these holiest of holy days, we enjoy the pomp and circumstance, and often find ourselves walking through the doors of my grandmother's catholic church. 

As I sat there this morning, wrangling a squirming baby, watching families file in, searching for enough seats together in a row, I enjoyed seeing the blending of generations. The constant whine of a baby somewhere in the church, the chatter of teenagers, the dainty nose-blow of the petite old lady in front of me.

It is something we don't get enough of. This mixing. This being together, shoulder to shoulder with someone half or twice our age. We have so much to learn from each other.

But the longer I sat there, and the more time I had to people-watch, I was struck by the teens and younger people around me. I watched the boy in front of me, blasting through levels of a snowboarding game on his phone. I watched the girl in the pew just down from our family, aimlessly scrolling her thumb back and forth across screen after screen of iphone apps while she uncomfortably glanced around the church and bobbed her crossed leg. 

A boy across from me was sending a last-minute text. 

Beside him a lady, greying and old, sat. And did nothing. She flipped through the missal, smiled at people as they found their seats, stared up at the light streaming through the stained-glass windows. 

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

Another man, closer to the front was kneeling, head in his hands. Doing what I imagine was quieting his heart and mind for the coming celebratory service. 

And it occured to me, in those moments how nice it must be to be part of that generation. To not be bogged down and distracted by apps, and texts, and emails. To be completely unavailable for whole chunks of time. To have no anxiety over what you're missing while you're "away". No worry that someone may have wanted you and you weren't there to answer the call. To have no other "world" to check in to. To be fully present in the life you are living. 

The truth is, our reality is much different than theirs. And for most of us, life requires us to be connected in some way. And for many of us, this connecting is completely enjoyable and good. But just for a moment, don't you ever wish you could turn it all off? And just experience life that much more simply? To know what it's like to be unavailable, and undistracted?

MPM : A Celebration of Her Life

There is something to be learned, I believe. If nothing else, those moments in the pews reminded me to take chunks of time and turn off. To disconnect. And as overused as the saying is, to be more present.  

And like the incense of the Easter Mass that clung to our clothes as we left the church, I hope this lesson clings to my heart and mind as I step back into my life this week. 

23 comments on “lessons in mass”

  1. This was very well written. I make it a point to turn my phone off when I enter the sanctuary, and have my teen do the same. It’s an HOUR. It is so necessary to our lives to have that one hour of peace.

    Happy Easter!

  2. That was so well said and I appreciated every letter of it. Unplugging is important. We do it a lot around here. We keep a land line and usually have our phones off or on silent. Some people can’t understand why we don’t just have a cell phone instead of a land line, but I feel that it is much easier to leave the technology behind when it is attached to the wall of my house. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this. Aside from (I think legitimate) questions of manners or propriety, all this connection is very wearing on the spirit. Turning off can be that good deep breath you didn’t realize you needed so much.

  4. what a great post! I was JUST thinking this past weekend that church is the only place I don’t see people on their phones or iPods and it was so comforting! (if there were, I do believe our priest would raise a loud and shaming “stink” about it). Thanks for the reminder that there is peace without all the stuff.

  5. I love how you put words to this. I personally have a prepaid phone that when it rings I wonder whose phone is ringing (!), thus I don’t use it much. I don’t text and I don’t twitter. I don’t face book. And this is precisely why.

  6. amen. i think that our family would have this time/space, if we celebrated shabbat in the way that some of our friends do. but we don’t. yet. i keep hoping.

  7. While I agree with you about people being drawn and connected to their electronic other world (I don’t go to church, but if I did I would be horrified by the rudeness of people using these devises during a service!), do you not think that people of that generation had that same kind of connection to their church? I suspect that over the years many people went to church, not only for their own spiritual benefit, but to catch up with the local community, to be seen by that community. Maybe as humans we are not so different, but the arena on which we play the game has changed ( except there is never an excuse for gaming!)

  8. I love that our church is both a mixing of generations and a place where all sounds and sights are made by the people who are there to worship together. It truly makes our time there a time outside of time, and for that I’m so thankful. I, too, want to bring that back into our time here at home.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree! We irritate and annoy our friends and family by only having an emergency cell for the car — not one that is attached to our hip (or palm) at all times. I *love* being able to LEAVE the house and email behind and breathe. Nobody can contact me, nobody can need me, nobody can bother me.

    I hate it when I’m out with friends and their cell phones are always going off, or worse, they’re checking texts during dinner or a movie. It’s just rude.

  10. i love that you go to Mass even though you’re not Catholic… many people wouldn’t dream of it. such well written words that leave me pondering. thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *