Sunday, November 21, 2010
I just listened to Vivaldi's "Winter" and it was so good that I'm wanting it to not end. I want to hear it again and somehow be in the middle of the orchestra. Why don't I hear music in that way all the time? My husband does.
I think I don't take the time to really listen to the music and in the moments when it really reaches out and grabs me it takes me by surprise. Some Christmas songs are like that for me, "I Wonder as I Wander" having always had that effect. The first time I heard it was when a classmate sang it at a school concert in high school. She sang it acappella and from the first hearing it gripped my soul. Since then my favorite Christmas songs have always been unusual and not often heard ones. Maybe the ones we hear all the time are the ones we quit hearing first. Too much repetition robs them of their beauty perhaps--the old despising the familiar.
When my children brought home their Christmas song books from school, I was thrilled to see "The Wexford Carol" included. It's another favorite, but one I learned on my own. "In the Bleak Midwinter," "Gabriel's Message" (Sting's version is haunting, but he changes the words to present a different message than the Bible; the best one I've heard is on a CD from Our Daily Bread), "Love Came Down at Christmas" (not the Jars of Clay version, btw), and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" are other favorites. I know I'm missing others, and at different times more standard songs have been more esteemed. But these are the ones that touch deeper than my emotions in the last few years. These are the ones that reach my soul.
I realize, now that I've written these words, that it isn't quite Thanksgiving yet. For the first time in a long while I suppose I am feeling very ready for rejoicing. I'm not sure why. The last three years have brought enough challenges to make me feel like I have walked through a fiery place moved to the top of earth's crust (unemployment, finances, health scares, multiple deaths, constant car troubles, work challenges and on and on--I'll spare you the details; chances are you can just fill in your own name and the story would sound similar, times are hard for everyone). Even though we are still in the midst of the journey, though, I still feel ready for rejoicing. Maybe reading Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" and the ending of the book of Job have reminded me that in the end of all the pain, when we have questioned the most, that God Himself, the very one we question, is the answer. And this is the time of year we celebrate His coming.
I'm not ready to say I know my own face, but I am ready to rejoice.
Opening image by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.