For Christmas, we travel to Pittsburgh to be with my family. Every year, we attend Mass together on Christmas morning, and every year, the kids practically whine, “WHY do we have to go to Mass?”
Usually, I feel crunched for time and rattle off some quick response along the lines of, “Do you know why we celebrate Christmas at all?” or “You got all these great presents and you can’t give an hour to God?” Even if the kids stop asking and move toward the door, I’m sure that answer doesn’t satisfy them any more than it satisfied me at that age.
Outside of Christmas, I sometimes wonder about the difference between attending a service with others or praying (or whatever) individually to connect with God. I do believe that God is everywhere, and we each have our own way of making connections. But still, I feel moved in a different way after gathering in a group or even acknowledging as a group that something is special.
I recalled a rare Easter Sunday visit to Pittsburgh, years ago. As my husband and I drove from the airport to my parents’ home, I realized that it felt like Easter but didn’t know why. My husband, craving a bagel, realized that all the bagel shops were closed and in fact, there were very few stores open at all. He found it odd and a tad inconvenient, and I suddenly felt like the whole city was celebrating Easter together, setting it aside as special from any other Sunday.
This Christmas, I received a note from a friend that reminded me of “The Vibe.” The short version is this: I once managed a project team where, at every weekly meeting, we would come up with a vision of what needed to happened in order to move our work forward in the best way. Though the vision might feel outlandish to our logical minds, our only criteria was that it had to resonate emotionally in the gut of every person in the room. Surprisingly, we came to a quick consensus every week, and every week, our logically outlandish vision came about. (If you want more of a description, I wrote a post about it here: The Law of Attraction.)
Recounting these random memories to a friend, she pointed out that in each case, there was the power of a group joining together, directing our emotional and spiritual energies toward a single vision. And maybe that is a big part of our human experience on earth: To connect with each other and to that which is larger than ourselves.
Perhaps it is similar when you pray for me. Thank you for coming together as part of a larger group. Together, your prayers and good will have power beyond just one person. Your vision of a healthy life for me moves my life and make it all more real.
God bless you.