Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve 2015 ~ Praying In The Parking Lot

I've been driving around this sleepy little town for awhile now.  The holiday season for me has been adventurous and peaceful in so many ways.  It is New Year's Eve December 31, 2015.  Before my special plans kicked in for the night, I decided to venture out this afternoon and take some pictures for the blog, my scrapbook, my memory bank. The sky was overcast and the air still nippy from a bit of unexpected and magical snow that suddenly appeared this week in the midst of Christmas and New Year's. I'd brought a snow globe with me - a silly gift left under the tree of my lovely host... little did he know how many times I picked it up to shake it as I passed by, wishing and hoping for snow.
Somehow the Universe heard my wish. This afternoon the streets are lined with snow-plowed piles of dirty white residue. My heart is full of unexpected piles of gratitude, sparked by a snow globe and piles of honest and new conversations. This holiday has been anything but customary and all things extraordinary.
But it's New Year's Eve. As is my custom, I try to find a peace prayer service somewhere and walk-in around midnight to begin the year in solitude. I think about our peace blogging efforts, our posts, and all the peace globes from around the world. I lift up every one of you, knowing that in collective prayer there is power and substance.

So this afternoon when I decided to drop into the only church I saw open in this strange but beautiful place, I didn't expect to have to turn around and leave before I even entered the building. People were pouring in from the streets and I longed to be part of the throng of peace prayers. But I soon realized that my Protestant snow boots had wandered into a full Catholic mass. I only had time for a few short moments of contemplation, so I had to leave unprayed, as it were. 

"Is this a community prayer service?" I asked.
"No! It's a Mass!" shouted the impatient woman who obviously hadn't noticed my out-of-state license plates as we approached the front door of the church.  Spontaneity is always key to my pencil skirt ways. The huge welcoming banner across the church balcony looked down upon a lighted manger scene, calling my name.  There was no need to ruffle my Protestant skirt, especially on a sacred night set aside for peace-praying. 

I walked back to my car wondering how I could have missed my only opportunity to "pray-in" the New Year. It just didn't feel right.
I pulled out into the highway and drove about a half-mile down the road, determined to have my moment of silence. Anywhere.
I had to get back soon and get ready for the evening's festivities. Everybody, it seemed, had somewhere important to go - and so did I. Why, then, was I aimlessly wandering through a town of strangers looking for a welcoming sign? Have you ever had a moment when you realized that what you are looking for is right in front of you? 
And that's just what happened to me.  

The lights....lights....ohhhhh.....lights....
As I drove I found myself surrounded by them. Everywhere I looked there were twinkling lights; car lights, street lights, stop lights red and green, garlands in windows, on street poles, in business displays, sparkling Christmas trees, homes lit up for soon-to-be parties. And me....wandering around trying to find a pew.

Encased in a lighted stairwell against a brilliantly blue sky, the sun was setting in the sleepy town of party-goers.  So I pulled into my parking lot pew and sat there alone, fixated on the light in this beautiful steeple...
feeling anything but alone.

There was prayer all around me you see....
in homes and hearts and left-over Christmas hope
enough still left to light up this eve before a new year dawns on the world at large.
Every time someone sits a candle in a window or lights a tree 
it's an unspoken sign of peace, an unspoken prayer for hope in the world.
We're all drawn to the light.
Darkness is no match for its power
no matter how dark the world may appear 

In the solitude of my car I was completely immersed in a town of light.
Instead of worrying about timetables and printed programs, I was drawn to what was happening around me... outside the walls of a Protestant-Catholic faux pas....inside the walls of my heart.

We illuminate our paths with decorations of peace.
Whether or not that's what we call it, that's what it is.
 There's much more good going on in the world at large than we give ourselves credit for. Keep lighting up your world, your windows, your gatherings. Make a pew anywhere you land.
And pray wherever you sit.

My New Year's Peace Prayer was different this year.
But I wasn't alone.
And neither are you.
I'd say that's just about perfect.

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speedyrabbit said...

Happy New Year,hope its a great one,xx Speedy and Rachel

Gemma Wiseman said...

This is an ultra beautiful post. You found your space of peace in the lights...I found my space of peace viewing the sea quietly from my verandah. Happiest New Year of peace to you Mimi.

Linda said...

Sounds like your parking lot service was just fine. There is a saying "bloom where you are planted" Happy New Year!

Mimi Lenox said...

Speedy - Happy New Year to you as well! It's going to be interesting for sure. Stay safe and well this year, OK?

Mimi Lenox said...

Gemma - It must have been beautiful sitting by the sea on New Year's Eve. I wish I could have seen the ocean! I miss it.
Happy New Year to you and yours.

Mimi Lenox said...

Linda - It was a makeshift peace service. You are right. Love that saying.
Happy New Year to you, Linda!

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