Yesterday I went to El Zapote Santa Rosa. I was planning to go to their Mass for the vigil of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, their patron. When I got there I found out that Mass wouldn’t start until 6:00 PM. I decided I’d stay until the procession began, since I was planning on going to two Masses on Sunday, his feast day.
Despite being an introvert, I sometimes find myself being rather overflowing with energy, interacting with a lot of folks. Last night was one of those times.
I talked to scores of the people waiting for the procession to begin – kidding around with the kids, talking with the young men who are almost always at the edge of church meetings, scaring a few infants but entertaining many kids.
There was a marching band of percussion from Dulce Nombre who had come out for the procession.
While they were drumming, I remembered the Philadelphia Mummers Day parades on January 1. I began to strut and “dance” to the rhythm. I invited others to join – but no one did. In fact, I think I scared one older woman!
Then, while near the truck with the statue of St. Francis, I remember the story of St. Francis picking up two sticks and playing his “violin.” I even got two kids to play two sticks.
I was having a lot of fun and full of joy and wonder.
The procession began after Padre German arrived with the sound system. The truck with the statue of St. Francis was followed by kids and others with saplings which they were going to distribute Sunday to be planted.
I left a little sad because I wouldn’t be joining them for Mass, since that would mean getting home about 8:30 PM. But I watched as they walked to the church.
When I got home I looked for the tale of Francis and the stick violin. I found several but the one I like is from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel Saint Francis:
One morning he sat up in bed and clapped his hands with elation. “Do you know what I’ve been thinking all night long, Brother Leo?” he shouted to me. “That every piece of wood is a lute or violin; that it has a voice and glorifies the Lord. . . . If you want my blessing, Brother Leo, bring me two pieces of wood.”
I brought them. He placed the first on his shoulder and slid the other over it with rapid bowlike motions. Seated on his mattress, he played and sang endlessly, beside himself with joy. His eyes were closed, his head thrown back: he was in ecstasy. “Do you hear the pieces of wood, do you hear them singing?” he asked me. “Listen!”
At first I heard nothing but the two sticks rubbing and grating against each other. But gradually my ear became attuned, my soul awoke, and I began to hear an infinitely sweet melody coming from the two dry branches. In Francis’s hands the mute wood had become a viol.
“Do you hear, Brother Leo? Do you hear? Cast aside your mind and leave your heart free to listen. When a person believes in God there is no such thing as a mute piece of wood, or pain unaccompanied by exultation, or ordinary everyday life without miracles!”
All creation speaks and sings in praise of God, even the piece of wood that appears mute.