Advent 8: held by music…

The one ‘social’ event I have attended fairly regularly in these Covid times is a music session in our local pub. We sit around tables and play folk music. The quality of the musicianship is… irelevant. I drag myself down there sometimes, but always come home the better for it.

Music is a big part of our advent. The arrival of the Christmas muzak. The promise of carols, just a short while down the road. For us too, there is another kind of Christmas music that makes and appearance; the sort that cuts through to the heart.

Over the Rhine’s Christmas albums for example;

Or Low, or Tracey Thorn, or our dear friend Yvonne;

At some point, Covid allowing, we will gather to sing together. I will play the piano as if wearing boxing gloves, Michaela will play her trumpet, in which we will hear whisps of that Salvation Army band on a busy shopping street… Emily and William will weave some sounds on Fiddle and guitar that will make me weep.

Music carries us. It allows us to feel. It becomes a place marker to give pause in the press of life.

(Musicians need our support more than ever… consider buying some actual albums this year.)

Here is a poem I wrote a year or so ago trying to make sense of the complexity of feelings that overwhelm me at Christmas and how music comes closer.

.

Peace be with us

.

In the quiet space between snowflakes

We listen to sad songs, and

Feel the prickle of tears, pushed

By beautiful broken things

Less than half-perceived

But never forgotten

.

In the warm space you made for me

I hide, guilty for those we left outside

Wishing our table was bigger

That every mouth was filled

Every refugee was home

Like we are. Hoping that

.

In the dark space between all those twinkling lights

Peace is waiting

Like scented water

Fingered by frost and ready to fall –

Ready to anoint our dirty old ground

Like Emmanuel

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