(I’m exhausted after the Twin Cities Women’s Choir concerts on Saturday, so this is going to be short.)
Illuminations is always such an important time for me. Since I don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious way (just cultural), my own feelings in the dark of the year are fed not by carols in the street and a hundred lit trees in the mall, but by the time spent with my musical community to contemplate the darkness, the growing shadow, and the light that comes after when the night finally gives way.
It’s an apt metaphor even in bright, effortless days. And these days, when the world seems darker than ever, that brightness has to come from inside us.
So it was worth every sore muscle, every aching inch of my feet, and my very unhappy knee, to spend a day on the risers with 100 sisters singing songs about the colors and lights that fill the world when shadows hang dark and heavy over us. And, yeah, I cried a couple of times because I do that. I’m sentimental. I always cry.
But there’s just something that happens when we raise our voices up together, beating back despair and cold with nothing but will and courage and joy and harmony. Anyone who has performed knows that feeling, and anyone who hasn’t never could. Suddenly, it’s like you are no longer just one. You are every person in the room, singer or audience or director, and you are complete, because your voice is one of so many.
And if I ever catch up on sleep, I’ll have an inner light well-kindled again to get me through the next few dark weeks.
I give you this song by Ann Reed. The choral group singing in the background is actually Encore from the TCWC, Sarah and myself amongst them. We were invited to sing with her for this album, and it just so happened that we got to sing on my 2 favorite songs she recorded. I can’t hear this song without thinking about the choir, or about my group of people who are friends and family and home. And in the dark, they are the light in my window.
“When a small quiet few sat together —
Faces she knew and had spent
A season’s for worse or for better;
She raised up her glass then to them.
And she said, ‘You’re my friends,
And wherever life takes me or when,
You’re my home, that’s the truth,
And the light through the window is you.’
So bring your lamps and lanterns here
On this last darkest day of the year.
Let our hearts be burning bright —
Through the window, I see you tonight.”