Lifting The Veil

Image by *jay~bay*, via Flickr

Saturday morning, Christian and I provided music for a funeral at our parish. The man was our age and had school-age children, and it was impossible to avoid the recognition of just how fragile is the reality we cling to, how quickly it can change, and truly, how blessed we are to have what we have–even when all we see is stress and worry and emptiness.

It was the first time I have sung “Shepherd Me, O God” in public since my grandmother’s funeral (can it be a year and a half already?), a fact of which I was very aware as I skirted the coffin and made my way up the sanctuary steps for the psalm. Very, very aware of exactly where I fell apart singing it for Grandma. Praying for the grace to keep it together. I did…mostly. But I couldn’t make eye contact with the assembly as I usually do.

Following that celebration, the day unfolded in a blur of chaos. I never changed out of my gray dress because our choir was providing music for Saturday evening Mass. It’s been a very long time (though not nearly long enough!) since I wore pantyhose for a full day. In between those two Masses, we had two birthday parties and a playdate to chauffeur our children to, and I had to have a confrontation with Staples over a large print order they had messed up. Two confrontations, in fact.

And throughout the busy-ness of preparing meals and negotiating trade settlements between children, getting the preschooler changed out of his ripped clothes and into semi-passable clothing for church, and the barely-under-control behavior of the kids during church (they do NOT do well at 5:30 in the evening!), the awareness stayed with me. How thin is the veil between our crazy-busy ordinary and the loss of it all. A single diagnosis, a moment’s lost concentration on the road, can change the trajectory of our ordinary forever. How rarely we stop to take stock of what we’ve been given, and put into perspective the petty irritations and stresses that occupy our waking hours.

Saturday evening, when the kids were finally in bed and Christian and I were sitting in front of the TV, I leaned my head over to rest against his, felt the warmth radiating from him, the softness of skin, the roughness of the coarse, whitening hair at his temples. And for a few moments I let the veil blow away and saw my life in all its beauty and fragility, and thanked God for what I have.