This mini ornament is part of an ongoing series of band instrumentalists. Besides the t-bone player above, there's also a flute player, a snare drummer, and another fellow playing something like a cross between a French horn and a trumpet, from past years. They are all wearing a similar red uniform, with a black belt and gold fringe, and a snowflake is somewhere connected to each musician. To be more specific, the snowflake is part of the music that the instrumentalist makes.
In this ornament, the trombone emits a large snowflake, fairly appropriate for this instrument, since it can indeed make a fairly loud, typically low sound. In contrast, the snowflakes emanating from the flute player's flute, however, dance delicately upwards, balancing upon each other, just as the high notes leave a flute.
Although there are great similarities between each of these ornaments, there are some differences, too. As mentioned, there are slight variations in the uniforms, the faces of each musician are not the same, and, of course, the instruments are all different, as is the snowflake.
These little fellows are good representations of the saints, that "cloud of witnesses" St. Paul refers to in Scripture, and this Christmas band sheds light on what it means to be holy. We can all agree that every saint is holy. Yet, at the same time, each saint is unique and individual. Although they each preached and taught the Gospel of Life (ie. the snowflake) they all did it in their own way, in their own times, and in a way the people of their culture would understand. Additionally, they are remembered for their individual "music," the message that they proclaimed. For example, St. Catherine of Siena is always remembered for her statement "Be who you are created to be, and you will set the world on fire." Yet, St. (Padre) Pio, is equally remembered for his very practical admonishment of "Pray, hope, and don't worry." Both saints were certainly holy and led lives of heroic virtue, yet they could never be confused with each other or blended together into some type of beige blandness. On the contrary, they were full of vim and vigor, i.e. personality and uniqueness.
Holiness gets a bad rap. It is perceived as being a life of boring dullness, where nothing good or fun every happens, and everything we like is a sin. But, if we look to the lives of the saints, that understanding of holiness is just simply not true. Instead, moving into holiness means drawing close to the fire that burns but never consumes, the heart of God - existence, joy, passion itself. In fact, we could even say holiness is like being the best trombonist, flutist, drummer, etc., so that what we say, our message, comes directly from our own hearts, and proclaiming Christ crucified and resurrected is like sending beautiful, uplifting music into the world, echoing, harmonizing and supporting the music of others to create a grand symphony of sound that elevates and inspires.
This Advent let's think about the music that we are making. Are we in step with the heavenly host, adding our own similar, yet unique sound? Or are our notes a little off, showing a need for practice?