Thursday, January 26, 2012

H is for Halcyon

Last week I got an email from a friend who ended his message with a one-liner that went something like this: I hope you're surviving in this neurotic and dysfunctional church of ours. He is an outspoken and very well-spoken advocate of an open church, the tenets of Vatican II, and the hopes and dreams of what the Catholic Church could be if it was less institutional and would be more like followers of the social gospel of Jesus of Galilee.

I answered right off the top of my head, without a second thought. I wrote: Yes, I am surviving, primarily because of where I am and with whom I share my life.

I was referring, I believe, to an inner life of calm, peace, acceptance and purpose within a world, a church, a country, a reality that does not always bring those about.

This exchange all came back to me in choosing the word halcyon for H. As a noun halcyon is the name of a bird, a kingfisher, who legend says builds her nest in early winter on a raft of sticks that fishermen push out to sea to keep winter storms at bay.


I met it as an adjective, meaning calm and peaceful. I first heard it on a Mary Chapin Carpenter album, in the beautiful, yet sad song "Jubilee."

If you have a few minutes here's Mary herself singing "Jubilee." Halcyon comes in right at the end. Enjoy.