Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Three years in

My very first blog post was on Christmas Eve, three years ago. Three! How could that be? Last night I stood in church, singing along to "Silent Night" and remembered that I'd written about the same moment three years ago:
Standing in church next to people who can sing, makes me feel like I can, too. Especially during Christmas Eve candlelight service, when it's all music and people, the usual and the unusual, and the voices swell around me in familiar all-ye-faithfully-coming tones and for a minute or two, I open my voice and I can sing.
I was in a Unitarian church, where we celebrate, as the minister announced, the birth of a great man, an inspired and inspiring teacher, a man of peace - the type of man or woman whose birthday we should celebrate. This is, of course, the reason I love the UU church: the ability to honor the historical Jesus for the impact he's had on the world, without muddying it with contradictory dogma about his godliness. On Christmas Eve I often wonder about those who've wandered in from the neighborhood, drawn by the beauty of the church's building (Gothic spires! Tiffany windows!) and its promise of candles and music, only to be confused by how little mention is made of their god. I like to think it makes people think, I want to come back here some Sunday.

One of the readings was from Jan Richardson, an artist and author:
Wise women also came. The fire burned in their wombs long before they saw the flaming star in the sky. They walked in the shadows, trusting the path would open under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came, seeking no directions, no permission from any king. They came by their own authority, their own desire, their own longing. They came in quiet, spreading no rumors, sparking no fears to lead to innocents' slaughter, to their sister Rachel's inconsolable lamentation.

Wise women also came, and they brought useful gifts: water for labor's washing, fire for warm illumination, a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came, at least three of them, holding Mary in the labor, crying out with her in the birth pangs, breathing ancient blessings into her ear.

Wise women also came, and the went, as wise women always do, home a different way.
I love that.

I sat in church as one of my relatives lay in an upstate hospital having brain surgery. There was no moment (as in regular Sunday services) to go light a candle in the side chapels, but I tried to imagine I could harness the love and good will of the hundreds of people sitting with me and send him that positive energy. The closest I can come to prayer.


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