the gathering

When people gather for church there is a certain anticipation, a kind of spirit of expectation, taking hold. I felt it last night when my family walked into the Dalhousie Art Centre to watch David Myles perform with the Nova Scotia Symphony Orchestra. Events with a critical mass of the public walking through the front doors attract an energy that is palpable.

I think the human spirit needs this, I think a spirit of community demands this kind of cluster. The information shared is such that while each of us will take from it what we need, what we see and hear, there is so much there that we can all assimilate together that it cannot help but bring us closer. Last night people left the concert singing carols, remembering Myles interaction with us, the story of humility at the coffee shop involving one of his t-shirts, and in a deep sense it brought us to a place where we can celebrate as one.

It’s a very human thing to want to celebrate together, as one. When I watch the skaters at the oval on Sunday night as I drive by after church I can see faces. There is a mass celebration there too. At the market on Saturday mornings that same spirit exists, people are gathering with a mood of excitement, they have a sense of what is coming, but there is also a spirit of wonder, a real curiosity about the event. What will we discover, who will we discover, what will we take away from this? And then there is that almost Buddhist-like need to live in the present moment and savor the taste of the now.

At the market there is a smell of freshly brewed coffee, at the concert there were the arresting smiles of familiar faces and postures, at church there is the connecting in the pews, the sharing of stories and experiences, the leaning into one another. When my Dad invites me to Moosehead games I feel that same spirit. People have no idea what goals they will see, passing that takes your breath away, the speed and skill that amaze us. In a sense we know, 60 minutes, a winner will emerge, an order to the rules and the strategy. But in another way we have no idea. We anticipate.

What is different about public events than watching at home is the interaction between us before, during and after the event. I think there was a real difference between the people who watched the Tragically Hip’s last concert at outdoor public venues and those of us who watched it at home. I suspect the former will remember the experience more, be more affected in the long-term. When they looked around and saw one another moved it moved them.

The events themselves sometimes do not live up to the anticipation. But the energy that leads up to them remains imbedded in our human spirit. And it can be transferred into the ordinary parts of our life. Sometimes when I step onto a bus I try to imagine the energy of walking into a public performance. I find that attitude adjustment most helpful in how I see others and experiences.

Advent began with the words, “STAY AWAKE!” And so I am.