Good Zeal


Last night, with the spherical glow of a nearly full moon overhead, I settled deeply into a backyard chair and listened to the night. My hands fingered rosary beads, slowly, methodically. As the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary unfolded, stars gradually took their place in the sky, appearing like vigil lamps held in the hands of angels.

Dew began to settle across the lawn. A dog barked in the distance. An airplane coursed overhead. I heard a monastery door open and close, someone else out, encountering the dark and the infinite mystery of night.

Meanwhile, the beads continued their path through my fingers, spheres of mystery spinning through hands in search of God. Words mingled with the beads: Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory be…each phrase a perfect pearl of prayer, formed of centuries of accumulated hope and sorrow, joy and tears, eons of calling upon the name of the Lord.

The hour grew late, and I grew tired. I headed back to my Joseph Hall room, drawn toward the music of Bach, the only music I know that approaches the music of the spheres. The hauntingly beautiful tones of the Kyrie from the Mass in B Minor played quietly in my room, redolent with mystery and the pensive mood of a minor key. Hearing its unfolding layers of soaring and descent was like listening to the night, to that which is particular and recognizable – a door, a dog, a plane – and to that which lies beyond our understanding.

The events and occasions that course through our lives like rosary beads in a searching hand are sometimes beyond comprehension, unknowable, a mystery. Yet we are held within the infinite sphere of God’s mercy, held lightly in the palm of His hand. And we join our prayer to the prayers of the centuries, saying Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory Be…

Kyrie Eleison…Christe Eleison…Kyrie Eieison…

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