Thursday, May 10, 2012

A New Vintage

Luke and I had the good fortune to join some friends at Contessa Winery for their 10th Anniversary Celebration.  For 10 years now, Tony and Liz Peterson have been creating their own wines.  First they had to buy grapes from other vineyards, now they grow their own.  As I chatted with friends, my eye was drawn to a stack of boxes in the basement labeled "New Vintage".  This sent me into blog mode.  What a funny oxymoron: New Vintage.

Sylvia's first Communion is more on the "New" side than the "Vintage".  She's still sweet grapes that haven't been crushed yet.  Life will certainly crush her a bit, but I hope she remains sweet and fruity as long as she can!

Isaac's Confirmation is New Vintage.  "Fruit of the vine, and the work of human hands." Isaac is just beginning to form his life with the sweet fruit he produces by being a branch of Jesus the Vine.  His life is already being mixed with the sweetness of blessings, just like the sugar the vintner adds to the grapes.  In choosing to become a disciple of Christ, he welcomes the gifts of the Holy Spirit like the vintner's yeast. They will expand his Knowledge and Understanding, and fill him with Piety and Good Counsel.  He will swell with Fortitude and  be broken down again in Fear and Awe of the Lord. These gifts will create in him a new vintage, a new creation that can't be contained within an old wineskin.  He will become whole and increasingly Holy.

And me.  I'm feeling like the New Vintage that was in the boxes at the winery.  I had a turn being sweet grapes.  The sweetness of blessings have been added.  The yeast has worked it's miracles, and the Spirit's Gifts continue to change and bless me.  I have been pressed hard, with only the best parts allowed to remain.  I have left behind chunks of who I was to become something even more beautiful.  Me. Reminiscent of the grapes I was born, but so much more.  Now, as I look to all the other bottles lining the shelves, still changing on the inside, I am reminded of the words of the song that reminds me of being with my Creator..."For you O Lord, my soul in stillness waits.  Surely my hope is in you...."

New Vintage.  My sediment still falls to the bottom of my bottle.  God has not finished curing me yet.  But one day, I will be poured out in a lovely glass for my Creator to enjoy.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sylvia's First Holy Communion

That's right, Sylvia's First Holy Communion.  It's the first time she will taste the Body and Blood of Christ.  As I sit in the pew looking at my beautiful little baby girl all dressed in white, looking angelic, I find myself praying.  Praying for her, about her, in support of her.  I pray that she understands that she is not eating bread and wine.  I pray that she understands that Jesus will become a part of every cell of her being once she ingests Him in the Eucharist.  I pray that she sees the beauty in what she's doing, and that it has very little to do with her pretty dress (which, by the way, is stunning!)  

We go forward.  She receives her Savior and returns to her seat, beaming.  She bows her head to pray after Communion as she's been taught, and I can't hold back my tears any more. 

These are tears of Joy.  Tears of Communion.  I received my Savior also, as I have hundreds of times, and it still fills me with awe. The Truth of it is overwhelming.  In those moments after Communion, I am one cell in the entire physical body of Christ.  I am connected to every other person who has ever tasted the Body of Christ and ever will.  Past, present and future come crashing all together in one amazing, glorious point in time. My grandparents are with me.  All our ancestors, all my aunts and uncles. This Communion is the Communion of all the Saints in glory, and those on Earth here below.  All those Martyrs who died defending this, our Faith, are here with me in this moment when the Body and Blood of Christ are present in my body.  

Now Sylvia is here too.   

It's so much more than being able to sit at the big kid table.  I'm praying again.  I ask God to let her meet her Grandma Swager, even just for a minute.  I ask God to let her feel the presence of her beloved Pops Swager who died just 2 years ago.   I love her so much, and I want her to feel the love that I know they have for her, and I have for her.  I thank God that I'm here in person to see this day.  I just thank God for too many blessings to count.  

After Mass, we go to the reception, and I feel like I'm only partly there, and partly stuck in my prayers.  (I get that way after Mass sometimes).  Later I was talking to Tim (my dear friend, co-catechist, and our Director of Religious Ed) and he told me he had the strangest sensation during Mass.  He's never met Sylvia's grandparents, but he felt himself praying about them being there.  Hmmm.  I think he felt their presence also. 

The picture above was taken at the cemetery after First Communion while she was still in her beautiful dress.  It is one of my favorite pictures of that day, because it shows the communion between those who have gone on before us, the present, and the future. The links that connect them are Love and Sylvia.  And today Sylvia got to enjoy her First Communion of Love with her Blessed Savior.