Ives searches for this state his whole life. He gets a glimpse of it once, in a mystical vision. The world becomes a shimmering landscape of goodness and love. Ives walks around dazed by the sight, unable to comprehend all the beauty surrounding him.
Christmas is not about perfection. This year has taught me that fact over and over and over. There's really no such thing as a Currier & Ives holiday with horse-drawn sleighs and carolers and starry nights. There's only been one perfect Christmas, and even that one was full of desperation and animal crap. In the end, everyone has to settle on Christmas for a barn instead of a hotel with room service.
Last night, I spent five hours finishing my Christmas poem. I was planning on doing a blog post and wrapping presents and baking Christmas cookies, too. I had to settle. Tonight and tomorrow, I have music rehearsals and Christmas potlucks and last-minute gift shopping. I have been a church musician for 30 years, and December has always been the definition of insanity. Being pulled in five thousand directions at once. There's an ancient Greek work I learned in graduate school. It's "sparagmos." It means to rend or tear apart a living being. If that isn't the perfect description of this time of year, I don't know what is.
Tonight, on my way home from work, I stopped by the cemetery to visit my sister's grave. I did it to remind myself of what is really important. I know that, if my sister were given the opportunity to celebrate one last Christmas, she wouldn't worry about the new Star Wars movie or making pecan pies or practicing "Mary Did You Know?" or buying the latest iPhone. No. She would play Minecraft with my son. Take my sister with Down Syndrome to McDonald's for lunch. Bake sugar cookies with my daughter.
I have Christmas presents to wrap now. My artichoke dip is in the oven baking. Choir/band practice tomorrow night. Christmas is upon me, in all its messy chaos.
Saint Marty can almost hear the angel choir singing.
The Poet of the Week...
Star of the Nativity
by: Joseph Brodsky
In the cold season, in a locality accustomed to heat more than
to cold, to horizontality more than to a mountain,
a child was born in a cave in order to save the world;
it blew as only in deserts in winter it blows, athwart.
To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother’s breast, the steam
out of the ox’s nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior—the team
of Magi, their presents heaped by the door, ajar.
He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.
Keenly, without blinking, through pallid, stray
clouds, upon the child in the manger, from far away—
from the depth of the universe, from its opposite end—the star
was looking into the cave. And that was the Father’s stare.
Abusing your elf...