Yesterday I wrote the climactic, crisis scene in my novel-in-progress, The Magdalene Mystery.
The scene had been chasing me and I had been dodging it, not sure exactly how to unfold the scene’s key events, how to link and layer themes with setting, the characters’ loves, and, indeed, their sufferings.
Yesterday was the reckoning, I suppose, or else I simply grew tired of running from it. I blocked the day out to write – to avoid marketing my other books, checking Facebook, or even taking a walk in the suddenly balmy California weather. So I wrote and wrote and wrote, as fast as my little fingers would go.
I won’t give it all away, but the scene does take place on the top of a mountain in Southern France. I felt I had been living on top of that mountain for weeks, breathing the air, looking at the panoramic view. It was as though I was on the border of another country, my feet on the earth, my head in the sky, and that from here I could fly. But where?
This morning I had the same epiphany, but in the Mass at Saint Peter’s Church. Probably because I still literally had “my head in the clouds,” on top of that mountain in my novel. Even so, my knees were firmly planted on the padded kneeler and my senses filled with color, sound, light, and the movement of the liturgy. I was rooted in the liturgical action, but as I watched and prayed and confessed my sins of the week, I saw other processions and other Masses from other places and countries. They were churches I recognized, clergy I recognized, each man with his own way of walking and speaking and chanting. Some were parish churches with small congregations, a strumming guitar. Some were grand cathedrals with banks of nuns singing the psalms before a soaring mosaic of Christ Pantokrator. In our travels we have had the remarkable and blessed opportunity to be present at numerous Eucharists, and while each is unique, colored with the parish’s history and the region and the people themselves, they all merged together in my mind, layering in a cosmic dance of union.
And the Epistle reinforced this sense of union:
There is one body, and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
This is what Heaven will be like, I thought – liturgical dances and songs of praise from time past and time present and time future merging yet remaining uniquely heard, seen, experienced. I know that when Christ returns there will be no need for the Church, His Body on earth, for He will be here on earth, but until then we are in a kind of training that will open our hearts and minds and senses to His presence.
At Saint Peter’s this morning I was on the precipice of another world, looking out over a panorama of eternity.
It was so very beautiful.