Open wide your ears, mind and heart and let the merciful healing love of God touch you. That is my summary of AbbeyFest 2016.
In order to enjoy the day, I first had to open my ears and listen: to what was said and what was sung. I also had to open my mind to what I was hearing; to not allow it to be background sounds but rather concentrate and let the messages be absorbed. While knowledge is good, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t put it into practice. Opening my heart, I took action by going to confession and passing through a Holy Door at Daylesford Abbey designated specially just for that day.
This year’s artists included Stars Go Dim, the Josh Blakesley Band and Sidewalk Prophets as well as a keynote address by Jeff Cavins. While each presented his own witness to Christ, I think it was the lead singer from Stars Go Dim that amazed me the most. Chris Cleveland shared his personal story of medical issues he faced from early childhood, leaving him unable to hear in his left ear. Yet he continues to succeed in an industry where hearing is very important, giving all praise to God. It was a very cloudy start to the day, until they sang Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, at which the clouds parted , the sun shone down and peeks of blue sky became more visible. When it was time for Mass, there was not a cloud in the sky.
Jeff Cavins gave an impactful and entertaining keynote speech that illustrated how knowing the faith is not the same as practicing the faith. He explained it by comparing it to his foray into photography: reading lots of magazines before buying a camera and then reading even more before he ever took a picture. I kept thinking about my hobby of spinning wool into yarn and how I approached it the opposite way. I learned to spin from a local group that met monthly. While I was encouraged to attend a spinning workshop, I felt I was not good enough. It took many years before I felt comfortable enough to go, only to find out all the bad habits that could have been avoided if I had attended the workshop as a new spinner. The same can be said for the faith, you can think you’re practicing it, but if you don’t learn about it – and continue to learn – you end up with habits that can be hard to break.
In this Year of Mercy we are all called to open wide to God’s mercy and experience His grace, especially when we participate in opportunities like AbbeyFest. What local events
can you take part in?