Even though the Seniors (aka alumni) got precious little – if any – overnight sleep (sleep? you can do that on a PLANE!), the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir started assembling at 6:15AM this morning outside of the Coleman Morse Center. A very long day awaits us: four hours to LAX; fourteen hours and some change to Auckland, New Zealand, later tonight; then a few more to Melbourne, Australia – the southernmost point on our pilgrimage to Oz.
Even with a little internet research, estimates are that this journey will cover about 41,000 aeronautical miles – the equivalent of one and two-thirds laps around the planet. This doesn’t include destinations back to our home towns from Los Angeles on the way back. Nor does it take into account the bus transportation: Melbourne to Sydney itself amounts to 550 highway miles.
But all distances aside: why do we do this?
We do this to touch hearts and souls, to spread holy song: to sing about the relentless Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost across the city of Melbourne. To sing about the ineffable mystery of the Trinity in Sydney and North Sydney a week later. We do this to encounter hundreds upon hundreds of high school students, using peer ministers to encourage, to give permission – that most essential of dignities – to give permission to all whom we encounter to find the freedom, the liberation, of being able to embrace holiness in the name of the living God.
And we do this to forge relationships with musicians like us, people who still have hope in the message of the gospel, people who are looking for ways to illustrate the hope through song.
We arise today. And though we travel not to Ireland (that takes place next year), the words of that most excellent blessing – the Deer’s Cry, the Lorica of St. Patrick – I inscribe these phrases now, as a prayer for the near-fifty of us making this pilgrimage:
I arise today
through the strength of heaven.
Light of sun, radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.
I arise today
through God’s strength to pilot me.
God’s eye to look before me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me:
From all who will wish me ill, a-far and a-near,
Alone and in a multitude.
Against every cruel merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I rise, Christ to shield me,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.
I arise today.