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  • Marie Trout

How A Bad Pentecost Experience Lit Up My Memorial Day

I was (late) on my way to church yesterday and found myself annoyed at the dust in my car. IT was FUNKY! Then some dude cut in front of me and “made me” miss an opportunity to blast through the intersection, just as the slowest light in town was turning red.

Finally once ensconced in my pew I had an old and VERY LOUD man, whose “amazing” vibrato over-powered and totally blocked my ability to hear anything else. He was RIGHT behind me. My entire church experience now awash in the powerful, all-encompassing pompous oscillation from his enthusiastic vocal cords!

It was NOT my day!

It was Pentecost Sunday – and Memorial Day right around the corner. My kids were wearing pants that were too short and had holes in them – my teenage son, I just realized, was wearing a t-shirt with ANIMAL from the Muppets on it. I hadn’t caught it before we headed out.

Oh, boy!

So here I was, still sneezing from my dusty car with my kids proudly proclaiming my lousy mothering skills. I was late due to the dude who cut me off! And now at church all I could hear was the 80-year old wanna-be Pavarotti with his swinging power-tenor booming in my left ear. RIGHT behind me!

Some days just suck!

At least Pavarotti was quiet during the sermon. Well no, actually he was not quiet; he did some sort of heavy, snorting type of breathing, but I could tune it out long enough to actually catch what our minister was saying:

Pentecost! The 50th day after Easter, and a day that the disciples, who felt depressed at being left behind, suddenly found that they could speak to anybody – and make themselves understood in any language! They gained this magnificent ability to communicate the message of love across any language or cultural barrier. Wherever and to whoever they spoke, people understood them no matter the nationality!

This year Pentecost and Memorial Day coincide.

And it reminded me of the simple message that IF all human beings were able to communicate a message of love across cultural and language barriers to each other – there might be no need for a Memorial Day – because nobody would need to travel the world killing people who are different from them, who have different political systems or who just makes them feel afraid.

We might instead realize that we are all people who love, eat, snort, sing, have dusty dashboards and shabby looking kids…. The human condition is a common attribute we share! We are more alike than we are different – no matter where or who we are.

Except, of course, many moms have much bigger problems than dusty dashboards….

And then I realized that if I was going to wish for peace – it would have to start with me! How can I ever make my deep wish for peace understood by others if I am mired in my own crap? How can I ever do conscious acts of love and compassion, if I am so busy worrying about dust on the dashboard? Or too over-involved in concerns about how I or my kids seem to others?

I think the blinders came off a bit in that moment.

I saw myself hurrying angrily to get to church embodying the strangest of paradoxes: A stressed out person on the way to meditate on peace!

I realized in a flash that my kids had picked their clothes with care and actually found the only pieces of red clothing – the liturgical color of Pentecost – holes, Animal and all! They had actually put thought into this fashion display!

I found a place of loving appreciation for the dear octogenarian singer behind me. It dawned on me that he was thrilled to be alive and to go to church and let his voice celebrate every breath in his body! Maybe he had recently had a brush with his own mortality? And here he was, celebrating his heart out – happy to be alive!

And I found I could celebrate every breath with him – and if his voice was all I could hear – then it was the most beautiful, life-affirming sound in the Universe!

It was a reminder of how we so many times get in our own way! We carry on with our internal “rag-drag” dialogue and miss the beauty all around us!

So maybe peace on Earth starts with each of us? If we are to experience peace – could it be that we have to embody it first? And whether there is dust on the dashboard, holes in our kids’ pants or other nuisances around us – it ultimately only is what we take it to mean.

Maybe the best memorial we can give to those who died in war is to help the ones that come after us to live in a more peaceful and loving world. And maybe it begins with me. And you! With each of us individually first!

Happy Memorial Day!

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