Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
(Where charity and love are, God is there.)
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
(The love of Christ has gathered us together.)
Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur.
(Let us rejoice and be glad in it.)
Timeamus et amenus Deum vivum.
(Let us revere and love the living God.)
Et ex corde amemus Deum vivum,
(And from a sincere heart let us love another.)
I can hear my Dad saying something like, “Latin is Greek to me.” (He was a funny guy) And I find that to be true for me as well. Having grown up singing in choirs, I’ve sung in languages that my tongue just couldn't master. Ubi caritas, is one of those I’m sad to say. But I love it and I'm in the choir, and we're singing it, so I'll do my best.
When singing a Latin piece, there’s a sense of mystery held in reverence. Singing is putting melody to longing or joy, to hope or deep despair, to love more often than not. And when I’m not familiar with another language, when I don’t understand the meaning or pronouncing of the words, then it feels as though the music has not yet found her true voice. It feels like hopping on one foot, hoping to keep up and make it to the finish line. Singing songs only in English, though would be like spending your whole life painting canvasses only in shades of white and calling them good. Languages bring depth and texture and beauty. Languages bring color to the piece.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where charity (“generosity and helpfulness” according to Webster) and love abide, God is in the midst in its midst. At the borders, where immigrants are offered salve for their feet, offered food and drink for nourishment: Deus ibi est. At the bedside of loved ones who are sick or dying, where stories are told and songs sung: Deus ibi est. On the streets in the morning’s wee hours, where each is seen as God’s precious child: Deus ibi est. At the unemployment office, where people on the other side of the counter look each person in the eye and smile just a bit: Deus ibi est. God is found in the taking longer to finish, so no one is left behind. Love is found when a MARTA bus driver gets a hug. It takes open and generous spirits. It takes our best intentions, our brightest hope. It is what love looks like.
At the end of the day, at the end of this Lenten journey, at the end of our lives these will be the moments that matter most. These moments when we saw beyond what was immediately possible and lived into what was not yet. Moments when we gave our first best half of our sandwich to another who was hungry. Moments when we believed the impossible just might happen, and we didn’t give up until the impossible came to be. Moments when love wins for us all. Deus ibi est.