Bliss to wake up and listen to gentle summer rain, sheet pulled up under my chin, filled with gratitude, clear-headed, a quiet conscience, inner peace, feeling loved and loving all those in my life right now.
And Christmas Day is just another 24 hours in itself. Another day in which we help one another not to pick up a drink. In which we share experience, strength and hope.
To Mass with Una, the early Mass at 8.30am. The sloping ceilings of a 1950s architectural design for ecclesial parishes of the Third World, economical and not especially aesthetic. Candles and a tinselly tree, icons and portraits of African and black saints nd martyrs on the walls. The only multiracial church in the village, and a liturgy in Xhosa, Sotho (for those from Matatiele and Mt Fletcher), Afrikaans, English and a little Latin. Beautiful unaccompanied singing of Xhosa invocations, stately Sotho hymns to Nkosi. The priest gracious and patient with the children gathering with lit candles, the elderly searching for familiar seats, the cell phones going off during the bidding prayers.
So moved, my old painful joy and sorrow around Catholicism. The beauty of this church of the poor, the crowds in shabby clothes kneeling on the floor, the women with babies on their laps, the gaunt youngsters with Aids, the weary stoic faces of the older grandmothers with their walking sticks propped beside them. Many of them have walked long distances to reach the church.
The stillness and presence of faith in the community, the living faith of the poor. This is what brought me into the Church when I was 23, the dream of belonginging to a transformed and transforming community, the hope of grace. And grace was there this morning, unstinted and overflowing, there for anyone willing to receive.