The lyrics of “The Little Drummer Boy” caught my attention in a new way this year and have served as a kind of drumbeat in the background of my Advent activities and my preparations for Christmas, almost as a kind of lectio undergirding my monastic labora. In preparing the sacristy, rehearsing music, polishing brass and silver, ironing chapel linens, and so on it’s as if I’ve been playing my drum for Him.
On this Christmas Eve day, I spent much of the morning working in the sacristy and chapel, each task a tap on my drum as I worked with Sr. Magdalena, Sr. Michelle, Sr. Sara Aiden, Sr. Therese, Sr. Lynn Marie, and others.
Later in the day, a problem with the walk-in freezer drew me to labor for an hour or so with Sisters Tonette and Mary Adrian in the freezing cold, each of us dressed as if we were ready to head for the North Pole. That effort, too, was a tap on my drum, trying to play my best for Him. And then over supper, some good-natured humor left those at my table nearly crying with laughter. That, too, a beat on my drum.
Like the drummer boy, I feel the gifts I bring are poor and inadequate. And I don’t always play well. Sometimes I even forget to play when I am supposed to be playing. Nevertheless, I offer all that I do as a gift, seeking to ‘play my best for Him’ as I tap out a rhythm of work and prayer, of prayer and praise, of praise and thanksgiving, ‘so to honor Him.’
And now, as these last, silent hours of Christmas Eve tick by, the air is still, the monastery quiet, the corridors dim. It is the calm before the joy of the Mass of Midnight. The pa rum pum pum pum of praise has fallen into the silence of anticipation and awe as we quietly, humbly, patiently wait, a newborn King to see. Pa rum pum pum pum.