Friday, May 3, 2013

Let It Be

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness,
She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be, Let it be, let it be

Whisper words of wisdom, Let it be

And when the brokenhearted people

Living in the world agree

There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted

There is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be"

-       The Beatles

Now for a happier topic

Last June, my little boy was preparing for his Baptism.  He was 4 ½ months old, so by preparing, I mean he was doing nothing.  Rob and I, on the other hand, were sorting RSVPs, filing papers with the Church, meeting with the catering guy and in the 11th hour, we ordered a tent from Westchester Tent Rentals in Elmsford based on the weather predictions.  We were hosting the Baptism in our back yard, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and by ‘at the time’, I mean to refer that you should never party plan while in a post-partum state of delusions.  We had almost 60 people coming to our small house and a 20 x 20 foot tent in the back yard.  Food orders could always be increased but the limited seating and general size of our property could not be increased overnight.  Needless to say, after the Baptismal ceremony, it started to pour rain and all our guests huddled under the tent or in the house.  I was overwhelmed but I said t myself, “Make the best of it”, and ran into the basement, traded in my leather sandals for some Crocs, donned my raincoat, and made it back to the backyard, to hand out plates and beers and toss dinner rolls into the crowd.  We had a great party.

Before the Baptism, I was hiding out in my bedroom, not due to weather but rather due to the increasing amount of boisterous guest who were invading my house.  While Rob, Nicky (Nick’s Godmother) and her fiance, Randy, were in Nick’s room dressing him for Church, I hid in my bedroom doing makeup for myself and Jenn’s 17 month-old Claire.  Claire looked fabulous.  I looked ok.  Nick looked like a mini Mafia baby.  We bought him a little white suit, complete with vest and clip-on tie, and he looked Gangsta’ head to toe.  At Church, Nick was being Baptized along with Finn Patrick (a baby whom I didn’t really know, but his parents went to birthing class with us at Lawrence Hospital) and another little boy.  Finn and the other little boy were wearing proper Baptismal Gowns while we brought in the half-Bronx, half-Brooklyn Mafia Don in his three-piece suit.    

Lord Have Mercy.

Despite all this chaos, despite overdressing an infant, and the untimely rainstorm, uncommon for early June in the Seventh Borough, I was so excited for Nick’s Baptism.  I was so excited for Nick to receive his first sacrament, and a bit relieved I could stop quasi-baptizing him with the holy water at the entrance to the Church, as I had been doing for a few weeks now. 

One night, I lay in bed thinking about how excited I was for Nick, even though, at 4 ½ months old, how much could he really be taking in?  This was not his conscious decision, we decided he should be baptized, as we were, as infants, we chose his Godparent, we chose Chicken Franchese over Veal Marsala.  Yet it was Nick’s day.

It was then that I realized the true value of the Sacraments.  Whatever the occasion, Baptism, Marriage, Last Rites, it was just a matter of presenting yourself as a servant of God and just being yourself before God.  Beyond the hoopla,  beyond the three-piece suits or frou-frou dresses, beyond the Chicken Franchese, it was just an opportunity to let it be. 

This Sunday we are going to see my cousin’s daughter, and one of the flower girls at our wedding, Elizabeth, receive her first Holy Communion.  I’m sure her dress will be pretty and I know we get a choice of chicken, beef or fish, but all Elizabeth has to do is let it be. 

Two weeks ago we were part of Nicky (Nick’s Godmother) and Randy’s wedding.  Technically it wasn’t a sacrament because Randy was raised in the Jewish faith, but for all intents and purposes, I consider it a chance to just let it be.  Two people, before family, friends and God, just let it be.  Come as you are.  Even if the Ring Bearer is a bit unruly (thanks, Nick) and even if all you can hear during the Prayer of the Faithful is the Mr. Softy theme song flowing through the open doors of the church on a warm Spring day, ice cream and wriggling toddlers, Catholics and Jews, all together to just to let it be. 

I admit, at some point during the homily, I spaced out, and was distracted with fond memories of our wedding.  The benefit of having a full mass is that the Bride and Groom get a lot of down time while everyone else is doing the talking, and our backs were to the congregation, all the more excuse for daydreams.  Nicky’s wedding was held at St. Brendan’s, in the Bronx (Fourth Borough), where her parents were married, where Rob’s parent’s were married, where both Nicky and Rob, cousins and friends, made all their sacraments, and from where Rob’s parents were buried. 

But Rob made his Sacrament of Marriage at St. Pat’s in Brooklyn (Second Borough), where I made all my Sacraments, as did my brother, who walked me down the aisle that October afternoon, twenty-one and one-half years after our father was buried from that same church, receiving his last sacrament in 1989.  I remember the light coming through the west-facing stained-glass windows of the church during our wedding.  We were married at 3 PM in the afternoon and I thought to myself, we’re never really in church at 3 PM in the afternoon and isn’t the light coming through the west windows just fantastic!   It was a light I was seeing for the first time.  All we had to do was to let it be. 

How fortunate we are to celebrate family events marked by sacraments, and parish continuity, followed by a choice of chicken or beef or fish, and, of course, an open bar.

"And when the night is cloudy, There is still a light that shines on me, Shines until Tomorrow, Let it be"
Let it Be

Congratulations to Nicky & Randy, and Elizabeth!

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