The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. (Isaiah, 9:2)
Most years I cry at the end of the Christmas Eve service, while the congregation sings Silent Night by candlelight in a darkened sanctuary. This year I had two chances:
1) at the church I grew up in, with Parents and Kids and Husband. It’s not that the emotions didn’t hit hard as we started singing. It’s just that I looked at Youngest next to me and she had her head thrown back, glow stick aimed at the back of her throat, rock star/flame eater style, as she sang. And that kind of magic did not need my tears.
2) at the church later where I filled in for another violinist last-minute. The orchestra played two verses of Silent Night and then dropped out so the choir and congregation could sing a cappella for the third verse. I did not even try to sing. I closed my eyes and let myself float on the sound of the choir. And the sound did not break my heart. It lifted me out of myself the same way the waves did at Galveston Island many years ago. And that magic did not need my tears, either.
Leaving the church after my job I remembered I had no picture for tonight’s post. I also realized I still had presents to wrap. The post had no chance of being done before midnight. The luminaries curving along the path in front of me outside the church were clearly the perfect thing. But I couldn’t get a good picture. The best I got was what you see above, which I’m convinced is beyond perfect. Because I keep thinking I know exactly how I should go about doing this life thing, and I keep not getting it right but finding something better than I wanted despite that. Because I can’t stop thinking about how subversive a thing Light is, and how all it needs from us is our imperfections and our expectations and our plans, if only just to show us that this kind of magic does not need us at all. Just watch and wait.