Happiness and Blurriness: A Thought on Collegium in California

What I was up to the last couple of days.

1. Must time fly when you’re having fun? Are good moments identified as being those which move too fast, not giving us any time to react?

2. I had a great time in California with choir. Napa was hills that were golden and green: lots of trees but each stood distinctly. The wineries – Hess and Domaine Carneros – displayed their quality not by overpowering the senses, but allowing the tasting to indulge in whatever it pleased. Mass was sung intensely by each of us and yet turned out a unified, perhaps even moving, sound.

And yet none of that matters when all is said and done. Mass matters most because of “Ubi Caritas,” which proclaims that where Christ is, love and charity are, and since the love of Christ has brought us all together we willingly love one another sincerely.

I need not tell you that if moments with others matter most, everything is a mixed bag. There were awkward and angry moments with others during this trip, but I was actually grateful for those – real interaction with people can’t be “we’re happy! yay us!” all the time. The trouble is that there weren’t many moments with others, and that our private lives have a curious way of hanging over even a choir trip.

3. None of this is to say it was the fault of the trip, or how it was arranged. The trip was awesome, the ministry was accomplished. And it’s my job to make the most of the opportunities I’m given, my job to make sure I stay in touch with everyone.

But once I say that, I’ve turned momentary happiness, whether lots of little moments or one long drawn out moment, into a responsibility. What is most strange is how it seems our conception of something good and lasting depends on “blurs” – it is vagueness that may allow us to discuss the Infinite. It may be the case we move from lots of little blurry moments to one big blurry moment to define our happiness.

Whereas I can remember when I was happiest during the trip: asking someone about their job, family or schoolwork; sharing something delicious or giving a compliment about how someone sounded; getting a text informing me that dinner did indeed happen at the Olive Garden. Perhaps the most unchristian aspect of American life is that many of us only break bread together in a church nowadays.

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