By Jay Mason

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your hear away;

Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.
-A.E. Housman

Gallup Journey Mason

This month is the tenth anniversary of the Journey.  It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since Chuck, Jenny and Nate (and the other Chuck) started the great adventure of the Journey.  What a great blessing to all of us.  The Journey is a positive affirmation of the great experience of living in Gallup.  Those rascals inspired me to write these articles once a month.  We can only hope that their great achievement can continue for another 10 years. Congratulations on this milestone.

What is an anniversary?  Originally the word was used by the Catholic Church to describe a daily mass to commemorate a person’s death one year after they died. It comes from two Latin words annus and versus and literally means turn of a year.  But I think it means more than just the turning of another year.  It asks us to turn and look back to the beginning – a return.  It reminds us that this current event began somewhere and in some cases a long time ago.  We may need to look back to remind us how much was given by that first act or inspiration.

One good example is the Ceremonial.  This year it is 93 years old.  Most of us (even me) were not around when it began.  It started as a way to promote Route 66 and tourism – a chance for Native Americans and their friends to get together and celebrate their cultures in song and dance and rodeo.  As we approach 100 years of that tradition we should not forget the original intent and work to maintain its existence. It is so refreshing to see an event that Native Americans cherish.  Their attendance at the parades is heartwarming and I am sure many Native parents remember the day when their parents took them to the Ceremonial parade in Gallup. It has come close on several occasions to ending, but hopefully that will not occur.  Our forefathers, Native and non-Native alike, would be disappointed if that happened.  Happy birthday, Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial.

The anniversaries that I remember are mostly wedding anniversaries.  Our date is November 25.  Our twentieth anniversary was memorable since it was the first time we traveled to Italy.  Little did we know that John Paul II, whom we saw on that trip, would be declared a saint this year.  Our marriage was blessed by the Pope and we spent many wonderful days and nights eating incredible Italian food and drinking delicious Italian wine.  We had such a good time on that anniversary, we returned (there’s that word again) the next year.

Another memorable event was our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  We planned so that all of our children could meet us in Las Vegas.  We were scheduled to renew our vows at a local Catholic church (not an Elvis chapel).  As we all got ready to go to church, my wife came down with pneumonia.  We thought this might be a message from God that our vows should not be renewed, but Kitty (well on her way to sainthood) was determined to complete the task.  She persevered and immediately went to bed afterwards.  I remember trying to fill a prescription around midnight at a Walgreens near The Strip that seemed to be a favorite hangout for drug dealers.  Luckily I was not mugged; I returned with the medicine, and eventually Kitty recovered to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Our thirtieth anniversary was a cruise to the western Caribbean.  I remember sitting at Margaritaville in Jamaica, sipping a margarita and learning how to dance the Cupid Shuffle.  My wife is a patient teacher.  We almost missed the ship departure because we were having so much fun.  We had a good voyage and forgot about the responsibilities back home.

We made it to our thirty-fifth anniversary last year (I go on and off probation on a monthly basis).  We had planned to return (again that word) to Rome to see a good friend who was studying for the priesthood and attend a meeting of Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a papal order to which we belong. We were told the year before that Pope Benedict might attend but we did not expect to meet a brand new Pope Francis, which is exactly what happened.  It was quite exciting since our group was quite small.  We were supposed to wear our medieval regalia (cape and hat for me, long black dress with veil for Kitty) but United Air Lines lost our luggage.  We were still in the clothes we wore on the airplane when we had our audience with the Holy Father.  He didn’t seem to mind.

Just about all of us underestimate the gift of life from God.  We take it for granted and believe that it will go on forever.  But we know that is not so and think of those many persons who suffer daily from a debilitating disease and struggle to make it from day to day.  They do not know if they will see another anniversary.  We should live our lives with the attitude that this might be our last day.  I give thanks to God that he has given me so many anniversaries to celebrate.  I hope and pray that there will be many more in the future.

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