The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
"A Happy Thought" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Ever in search of the kind of simple, fulfilling life of wonder you hear about in old stories and tales, our family embarked on an adventure in music some years ago. Already fond of playing and singing, our instruments took on a new appeal, and the range and sort quickly multiplied as capacities blossomed. The children have been quickly tuned-in and astoundingly insightful when it comes to picking up the good old melodies and rhymes, facilitated not only by new instruments but especially by the better stock of music. What began with a Christmas caroling devotion of sorts, within which we dedicated ourselves to traversing the neighborhood and gifting our neighbors with lively and heartfelt singing for the Christ-child and to celebrate the merriest time of the year, in a round about way developed into First Saturday bonfire sessions of folk and sacred music with family and friends and then into the familiar habit of a living room past time, just us and the children, at any given time though especially in the evenings throughout the year. Learning basics from her father and getting a few formal lessons for voice and piano, our firstborn child's genuine love of music, something obviously imprinted on her young soul, has been easily passed on to the other children as their interests mature but from the earliest ages. And so we have a house filled with music (at many points skills budding but soulful), and our walls are lined with instruments that vie for space with the bookshelves. We have come to be grateful for the daily hazard of making our way carefully through a maze of books and banjos.
This year, our eldest daughter wished for a violin - a notably lofty request even though we make exception when considering worthwhile investments in good fodder for the imagination and the soul. She was required to accomplish a feat that would both test the lastingness of her desire and prove her abilities: a fifty-song guitar challenge. Months-long of countless hours were spent practicing chords and lyrics when finally, through the course of Advent, her father subjected her to a test, and, five songs per night, she worked her way through the list to show mastery. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience all around, and her prayers and single greatest wish of Father Christmas were answered happily when, on that most glorious morning of the year, anticipated long and with much making way in preparation for the birth of the Savior, she found a beautiful, shining fiddle on the hearth on Christmas morn. And so, our house rings anew with the joys that only come at Christmas accompanied by the difficult but lovely bow-on-strings music of the violin!
In the third week of November, on the heels of our 19th wedding anniversary and just before Thanksgiving, we hosted a little festival in honor of one of our favorite saints, the patron of music, St. Cecilia, and were reminded of all the things for which we are grateful. We accomplished a pig roast with the help of friends, with fathers and sons braving the cold in tents all the prior night to keep watch and tend the pit, and many families came to join the worthy feast. Of many remarkable things - amongst the mix of piety and camaraderie and seriousness and play - the most enjoyable aspect (aside from the delicious food) had to be the performances and presentations made to especially mark the occasion. Not only were there more guests in attendance than ever before at the farm, but so many came in genuine and eager willingness to sing a song, play an instrument, showcase a piece of art, or recite a poem. The story of St. Cecilia warmed everyone up and the recitation of Psalm 99 (DRB) set the stage, for surely, like David, the one after God's heart, and St. Cecilia, the one inflamed with the music that moves the universe, we were come together and bound in a desire to make a joyful noise! And then things really began where they should, with a rhyme from Mother Goose. The happy crowd enjoyed folk songs, sacred vocals, the enchantment of the harp, the liveliness of the fiddle, a hornpipe with dance, some inspired Hopkins, and too many budding musicians with guitars and banjos, pipes and drums, to count. Late into the afternoon people played, sang along, roamed around, met and conversed in gladness.
There was something charming in the chill air as the sun went down, and the moon stood out in a great brightness over our happy time. We hope that St. Cecilia, beautiful soul whose pious courage and musical heart united her finally, against severest odds, in martyrdom to God, will continue to inspire and bless our future festivals in her honor. Too, we hope she is endeared to the hearts of those who met her for the first time here. Our hearts are restless Lord, until they rest in you - and yet gladly do we welcome these occasional respites and glimpses of goodness here on earth! Be sure to consider joining us for a First Sunday sometime, or for the St. George Festival in the spring! In the meantime, we make our way in the holy anticipation and penitential weeks of Advent, looking forward, as all faithful have for centuries, to the joyful coming of the Savior!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.