Thursday, December 25, 2014

Light: 12/24/14

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.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Light: 12/22/14

Variation: Hwy 63 North

Of course all the light
is in the sky,
and reflected off the wet road
and in the headlights and taillights
smeared long
on the pavement,
but the heat—that is in the grass
along the sides of the road,
tall and tawny and gold.

It is three days before Christmas
and snow would be nice,
draped clean and sparkling
across these hills.

this is a variation 
on winter,
the same way the Nutcracker pas de deux
is a variation on a G major scale—
it may have started off as a riff
but what you get in the end
is a melody you can feel 
throughout your body—
a melody you can flow with
over and through these hills—
these hills that after seven years
have become like home
(and maybe home, too,
is a variation.)

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Light: 12/21/14

Today in Urgent Care I had a little bit of a rant: “It was January 2 years ago that I started getting sick all the time, and it’s been one thing after another ever since. I’m so fed up!”

To which Husband answered, “Ooooh, now all the germs are so scared! Every single-cell organism in the room just shuddered.”

It was worth a good belly laugh.

It has been a good day for levity. As in: we’ve had some good laughs today, and also: we needed some good laughs today.

I have felt good for one week since the most recent sinus/bronchial infection. Now I have shingles. Add the last 2+ months of kid’s illnesses, add all the hours of sitting in or driving to and from doctor’s offices with them, add the stupid asthma that four of us have, and the medicine that helps us breathe that costs twice as much this year as it did last year, add that while the pet mouse has been slowly gruesomely dying of cancer the pet hamster and pet fish died unexpectedly. Things could certainly be worse. But I’m really, really tired of acting like I’m patient.

I can’t say we laughed light-heartedly but we laughed a lot, and shot-through with all kinds of light. That is a levity I can trust , close to perfection.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Light: 12/20/14

We decorated, at least part-way. The to-do list is shorter than it's been in months. I gave Oldest a haircut—one of the most improvisatory ever, and he trusted me. The weight of everything tonight is more moon-weight than earth-weight, which means it will float away before I can catch it, but for the moment feels perfect.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Light: 12/19/14

I live in a world where things like this sparkly bouncy ball just show up, possibly out of thin air. Also magical: the patch of glitter glue on the floor in the den (I left it there on purpose, a memento.) 

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Light: 12/18/14

Ran inside today, but no matter. It is unbelievably lovely when my lungs work the way they should. Sometimes I believe it might be possible to inhale light.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Light: 12/17/14

Today's light: sitting on the floor of my daughters' room, just being here as they fall asleep. It's been a long daynot terrible, but not easy, either. Being there was the best I had, but there was a sacredness to it.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Light: 12/16/14

As a child I was adept
at slipping my eyes out of focus,
making the headlights and taillights
on 35W at night
into strings of pearls and rubies.

On a sunny windy day
I could turn
the waves of Lake Harriet
into a mass of diamonds,
and I conjured pearls
out of rainy evening streetlights
(though on foggy mornings
I preferred opals.)

I sat easily with the fairies
disguised as dust motes
and in bed at night
I contemplated
the kaleid0scope
in my head,
fingertips pressed against eyelids,
moving color,
moving light.

I was a master of light—

not once did I recognize
or question my power.

Not once did I lose
my fear of the dark.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Light: 12/15/14

Every day I see this. During arrival/tuning/snack time, especially—they are experimenting, exploring, asking each other questions, teaching each other stuff. Every day I see this fire for learning igniting around the music room. Yes, they are tired and distracted after a long day at school. But still. I get to work with that fire.

Maybe one of these days when someone asks me what I do, instead of saying “I’m a violin teacher” I will tell the whole truth: “I am a violin teacher, a witness-er of miracles, a problem-solver, a counselor, a herder of squirrels, a maker of music, a fanner of flames.”

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Light: 12/14/14

This is a light that seeps, this music.

It’s not the most common thing anymore for me to practice solo Bach, but even after all this time it is something that seeps into the bones. Not at first of course, but gradually, as I discover the breath of it, and the shape (rise and fall, expand and contract.) As my muscles get used to the work, my body relaxes.

It is a seeking out of light, working on this music.

Each time I practice it, it is like this—the warmth and light working themselves past the tension. Why did I hate practicing so much for so long?

My goal for the performance is less about perfection than it has ever been—
        only speak—
        only follow the light through the trees,
        only show them what you see.

And the night of the performance, what does it matter if I’m fluttering inside? It is all still there to seek out. This is what I determine before playing.

While I’m playing, I remember the lines from Hafiz I read earlier in the day:

God wants to see
More love and playfulness in your eyes
For that is your greatest witness to Him.

Yes. That.

Afterwards, it doesn’t matter how I feel. I’m done. I’ve done the work. I can leave everything else to the light.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Light: 12/13/14

The how is not so important, just the bare fact that these lights are threaded into the peace process that followed a long battle. For a while they were on every night—glowing, festive, perfect. And after a while they were not turned on every night, because things like that do not always become habit.

What has become habit: if someone is not home yet, if a visitor is expected, if someone in the house feels festive (or wants to feel festive) these lights are on. It has never been discussed, never been planned. Just happened.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Light: 12/12/14

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Light: 12/11/14

The way things come into the light—

Tonight I worked to extricate a truth.

Tonight I received a truth as it burst to the surface.

Both were deeply personal, told to me by children. Both are resonating now, in my heart.

They came at such different speeds, and they had almost nothing in common besides the need to be told. But that need to be brought from the depths into the light—there was no escaping it. And that bright moment of truth, it  sears.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Light: 12/10/14

Flashlight under the pillow, lamp on the headboard, portable book light, illuminated cell phone screen, flashlight app—

the books themselves should glow, for all the light they give off. 

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Light: 12/9/14

On a day like today when somebody asks if they can light candles for dinner (the silver candlesticks still out on the table from Thanksgiving simply because it’s nice to have them there), go ahead and say yes. It might seem like a very dignified thing alongside your macaroni and cheese, but somehow it fits.

The scrappier the day, the better.

Add the candles to the two cases of strep, and the tightness in Oldest’s chest that won’t go away, and Is there mold in the house? and your own dragginess, which, after more than a week is probably not just “fighting something” but more like a bad cold, and maybe bronchitis. 

Add the candles for sure to the moment in the doctor’s office when one of your daughters interrupts the conversation you are having about her health—Mom, you have a hair—picks it off your shoulder and holds it up for you to see (it is coarse and white), twirling it back and forth between her fingers a few times before dropping it on the floor between you and the doctor. Add the candles especially to that, because even though you may love your hair—unruliness and white streaks and all—this is not one of those moments you ever expect out of life, and even by dinnertime you don’t know how you feel about it, except embarrassed and not embarrassed all at once.

Say yes, add the candles, because there was a kindness, also, blanketing this scrappy day, some kind of sweetness attached to it. And somehow it all fits—odd and lovely and true.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Light: 12/8/14

When the sun returns—

It’s not that I don’t notice the clouds/rain/snow/fog. It’s just that the day everything lifts, finally, I lift with it. It is the same feeling I had when each of my children was around three months old and I knew that I was emerging from underground. I had not quite known I was underground, except there I was, emerging.

I feel the light. I feel light.

And today, driving, I noticed first the glittering of the beaded bracelet Middle made for me. And then it was the glossiness of the lawns. And then the openness of the sky—sudden, bright. The sun.

Welcome back, old friend. I think I can accept your disappearances, if only to feel your return. 

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Light: 12/7/14

In a new light:

1. Tuesday night on our way to rehearsal I wanted to capture the shine of oncoming headlights on the raindrops all over the windshield. Then I saw what showed up on the camera’s display screen, and I wanted to capture that even more. Many pictures later (Husband was driving,) I had neither. But I had this, and I like it anyway, failed intentions aside:

2. This morning I tried to give Youngest some new words to counter what she runs into at school. To show her that “weird” is only one way of saying it—that there are other words, less barbed, more clarifying: unique, eclectic, special. Because those are things you want to hold on to, not bury.

If only my words can flood their words with light. If only she can grab hold of the power in retelling that story.

3. Later this morning, this on Alison McGhee’s website—this pulled it all together for me today.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Light: 12/4/14

If there were such a thing
as a ghost of an insight,
our tired old car
would be floating
with flecks of fire,
burnings born
in snaps and flashes,
but ordinary
in the middle
of getting there on time,
picking that up,
picking them up.

It might be tempting
to feed them,
these ghosts.
One might even want
to learn to cultivate more
of them
(a delicate art
as they are shy creatures,
and prone to haunting
if neglected.)

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Light: 12/3/14

Sometimes light comes in the form of revelation. As in: buying shoes for your 12 year-old is not the same as buying shoes for your 11 year-old.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Light: 12/2/14

Driving home from a rehearsal or performance late at night on a rural two-lane road—we’ve done it many times over the last 18 years. Trying to keep each other awake. Almost always a 90-120 mile drive, and almost always I last until the last 20 minutes. Almost always Husband drives, for exactly that reason.

These drives are marked by light: the glow of painted lines on the road, the reflection of our headlights in the eyes of deer. The flicker of fireflies, of lightning, of stars. The spread of moonlight across a field, the spread of pink above a distant city. Shooting stars and Northern Lights. Snow and rain and fog pulled into and lit up by the tractor beam of headlights. These are the backdrop to many conversations, stories, arguments.

Maybe it’s just my tired brain, struck by this at the end of one of these drives, but here’s the thing: all that dark you move through, all you see is light. How obvious, how extraordinary.

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