Monday, December 02, 2019

Day 2 and 3. Music For A Festive Season

Image from Pixabay

Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and
resonant, coming from everyone's very heart. There
was no sense of performance or judgement, only
that the music was breath and food.

It's the time of year when my heart grows hungry for the singing of Christmas carols. Not just to hear them being played on the radio, CD player, or live streaming, but to sing them with real flesh and blood people lifting our voices as one, breathing new life into the old lyrics that offer a weary world consolation, hope, and joy.

Music was a central part of my childhood. My mother was the pianist in our church and I always loved to hear her play. She'd often play at home and I'd sit next to her on the piano bench as I attempted the melody line in the higher register. Maybe that's when I first learned to love Christmas carols. For it was my mom who taught me, as a four or five-year-old, to sing the beloved children's carol Away In A Manger. I was to sing this little song at our church Christmas Eve service that year. Except as I still vividly remember I had a case of stage fright, and there wasn't anything Mom could whisper as she knelt in front of me that encouraged me to open my mouth and sing those lines I knew so perfectly. Mom finally led me off the platform. No longer standing there with everyone watching, relief flooded my little soul. And, then suddenly I was ready to climb back on the stage to sing, but it was too late. My moment to shine had passed. Fifty-five odd years later and I still remember that moment as clear as ever.

Yesterday, we attended our first Christmas concert of the season. The musicians played with joy and confidence and the choral singers sang like angels -- the harmonies and descant in certain spots were positively spine tingling. When the audience was invited to join for a short carol sing, oh my, I felt a catch at the back of my throat. With a rousing intro on the pipe organ, the rafters rang as we sang The First Noel, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and Hark the Herald Angels Sang. Everyone together. For me, it was bliss!

I wait for it every year ... that moment when I can join in the sweet refrains of an old, old story that's once again sung by people around the world. 

Let heaven and nature sing,
Let heaven and nature sing...

* * *

Wishing you a heart full of song this week.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Hello December

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.”
May our slowing down this Advent be our gentle protest against the violence of
our rushing world. May our slowing down give quiet, steady witness to the values
of attentiveness, carefulness, patience, receptivity, stillness. May our slowing down
enable us to make real and meaningful connections with people, nature, work, art,
and (most importantly) with God.

It's December 1st and I'm awake in the wee hours. I ponder what to write here on my blog as the Advent season begins, as we wait for Christmas. Thoughts swirl around. I think about a friend and her daughter who is in hospital and whisper a prayer. I read a little to focus my thoughts -- this early morning I dip into Frederick Buechner's The Remarkable Ordinary, and I'm drawn to these words he's written:

"There is none like God . . .
who rides through the heavens to your help,
and in his majesty through the skies.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deut. 33:26-27 RSV
"Joy is knowing that that is true from your stomach. Knowing that even though you see only through a glass darkly, even though lots of things happen--wars and peacemaking, hunger and homelessness--joy is knowing, even for a moment, that underneath everything are the everlasting arms." p. 120

I am comforted by these words as I think of my friend and her situation. I feel a joy bubble rising unbidden on the inside of me as I think those words in light of my own little concerns. It's been said that joy comes in the morning, how grateful I am that sometimes it comes while it is yet dark.

* * *

This morning the child in me happily opened the first window on my Jacquie Lawson Advent calendar. On it, I decorated some cookies and played a card game. Later this afternoon, we shall attend our first concert of the season, Music for a Festive Season with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble. Not Handel’s Messiah but lovely seasonal pieces by other old composers, including Christmas Concerto by Sammartini, Christmas Sinfonia by Torelli, and Magnificat by Vivaldi. And at the end, the conductor will invite the audience to join in and sing a couple of old familiar carols with the organ in full blast. In truth, it always turns out to be my favourite moment in the whole concert.

And so Advent begins. My friend Lorrie noted earlier on her FB page it's a season of longing, of hope, of waiting in expectation. Yes. I hope to be here every morning to offer a little something as together we wait, and count down to Christmas -- won't promise though.  

Wishing you a beautiful first day of December.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Advent Calendar Winners...

"It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us
memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."

Well, I'm truly getting in the mood for the holiday season now. I've been putting the brakes on myself to wait until December 1st at least before going full steam ahead. It snowed again yesterday -- light, fluffy stuff so everything sparkles this morning. And it's wintry cold out too. The birds were ready for peanuts when I took them out.

Over the past couple of days, I've been writing out envelopes for Christmas cards while watching the enthralling series The Crown on Netfix. I'm on Season One, so I have some catching up to do and certainly have no trouble watching two or three episodes in a sitting. The actors in my opinion are excellent and so I'm completely drawn into the Royal circle as I sit with my tea in front of the fireplace with my card list and stack of empty envelopes.

Only a few more days now and it will be the first of December, which makes me hap-haPpy to announce the WINNERS of my Giveaway for the Jacquie Lawson Advent e-calendars...


Congratulations to you both, Lin and Cheryl! I'm so pleased for you. I hope that you along with any kids or grandkids around will have great fun with these interactive calendars. (I'll need an email from you so we can get them sent to you, my email link is in the sidebar.) A big thank you to everyone who joined in the Giveaway fun this week. I assume everyone knows Jacquie's beautiful card and calendar online company, but in case you don't, here is the LINK.

* * *

What else can I chat about today? My, the nights are dark these days. Because I sometimes wake in the wee hours unable to get back to sleep, I've taken to leaving on a pretty LED candle all night. How comforting to come down to the kitchen and catch sight of the golden glow in the darkness. I'm always amazed at just how much light these LED lights give off in the dead of night. Add to that, I catch sight of our next door neighbour's coloured lights, also on all night, glimmering through the dining room window. These are such little things, yet they provide such tiny hugs of comfort. 

I went out after supper last evening because I needed another box of Christmas cards -- my list was a little longer than my stash on hand. It was snowy out and many folks had their holidays lights turned on. Oh what joy, making my spirits bright. It can be said it's too early, but the lights aren't just for Christmas anymore -- we all know they create a spot of light in the darkest months of our year, so why not start early.

* * *

In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so
faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sounds of the
silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware
of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about
to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just
before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.

* * *

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends!
Wishing you a beautiful day as we anticipate December's Advent season.