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Archive for December, 2006

oh, my. i got an early Christmas present tonight, or one right on time, depending on how you look at it. halfway thru midnight services, a clarion voice appeared in the crowd. a few pews behind me, to my left, was a curly-haired blond, with a scruff of beard and a red pin-stripe shirt, singing in the most beautiful, clear, operatic voice. many of us turned around to see who was singing, as it sounded as if a cantor was hidden in the back corner of the church.

he sang, beautifully, sometimes harmony, sometimes melody, clearly, and not leading or following, just… singing. singing some of my favorite Christmas hymns, with love. much of the rest of the service was spent smiling, and letting his voice wash over me.

i caught him after the service, put my hand on his arm, and said ‘you have a beautiful voice.’ ‘thank you.’ ‘thank *you*.’

his voice was a gift.

and every voice in that church was a gift. at some point, tired, and worn, and trying to focus, i caught myself enunciating so clearly as to be ridiculous, and i dropped my voice, and closed my eyes. and i could hear – the communal voice, the voice we create as a community, as a congregation, warm and sweet. and i could pick out individual voices, here and there, rising and falling, each contributing their individual flavor to the whole. standing there, hand on the back of the pew in front of me, eyes closed, listening with my whole being, letting self fall away, i could hear.

Father S, who performed my nephew’s baptism, said that there are only two things in life: listening, and speaking. speak with intention, and listen with intention. listen for, not to.

tonight, i found that listening for let so much stress and tension fall away, as i let myself hear, and receive, and fall into the energy that we all brought to that service, that celebration.

that warmth, and receiving it, and having that delivered on the operatic voice of one, the voice of the fellow next to me who had been napping beforehand, the two women behind me, sometimes one then the other, the woman behind and to my left, a gentleman just ahead of me, and then the whole of us, all of us together – that. that was the Christmas present i needed.

Merry Christmas, if you observe – also, Happy Hannukah, Solstice, Eid, whatever you may be observing or celebrating this time of year. namastè.

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sleep – you are *unconscious*, unaware of your surroundings, and your body is recharging.

down time – you are awake, and aware, and participating in something that recharges your heart and soul.

i have not had any down time in the last few weeks. in fact, i can’t recall an episode of recent near-down time that didn’t involve being semi-comatose.

hey, if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas? down time, in copious amounts. thanks.

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i’ve been reading her for years, it seems, on various sites, and various incarnations of her personal site. she’s funny, and witty, and a great writer, and a presence. and it doesn’t seem right to discuss her in the past tense.

in the link column on the left is a link to her Advent calendar. it’s a project she’s done annually for several years, and one that brought me great joy. she’d just sent out her annual note that the calendar was available. i’d been wondering why the calendar seemed stuck at 7. and then the news came.

leslie was loved by so many people. it’s an honor to read what others have shared, and understand what a force she was to those who knew her, well or even a little. and i cried a lot, reading those entries – for leslie, and her family, and friends, and those who have met her, or been touched by her love and energy. and i regret never knowing her more than obliquely.

leslie, wherever you are, i hope you can feel how much you are loved and missed.

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last week’s questions were more interesting. 🙂

1. What song gives you the most holiday cheer?

i love any sort of carol… what pops to mind is Star in the East, done by a choir, possibly Vienna Boys Choir, on an album with a maroon cover… visual memory is a pain in the ass sometimes. 😉 also, Holly and the Ivy, in particular a version done by Jim Infantino and Jonatha Brook. but especially for me, any carol or Christmas hymn sung in a crowd of people, particularly at Christmas Eve services. the energy and love gets me every time.

2. Who is the hardest person to shop for on your holiday list?

my grandmother. there’s not much she needs these days, at least not that can be wrapped up and put under the tree.

3. When do you start your holiday shopping?

whenever i can find time. this year, i did what i swore i’d never do again – a shopping marathon, as i only had one afternoon where i was husband-, child- and commitment-free. at least this year, i had a car. last time i did this, i walked around Harvard Square and carried everything. gah.

4. What food or drink do you love when it’s cold out? (Recipes and
recommendations, please!)

hot cocoa, fresh baked anything, egg nog. recipes for particular dishes may follow.

5. What do you do to get rid of a cold or flu?

sleep. that, and Southern Comfort. seriously.

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snapshot:

driving back to the office this afternoon, making familiar trails along a favorite road, i have the radio turned up just enough that it takes all my focus. i can’t think of anything other than the music. on comes stone roses, and i’m singing along with waterfall

she’ll carry on through it all
she’s a waterfall

and i’m driving, and singing, and outside my own head, and in the moment.

and as i’m singing, i think of a comment from a show i listened to this weekend: ‘sound is touch, from a distance.’

they talked about how music resonates for us, and more than that, how there are some universal melodies in our speech: how we speak, particularly to children, in tones that communicate love, reassurance, remonstrance, and praise. four universal melodies.

i drive along, singing and humming, outside myself for a while, reassured by the melodies and words that i hear, and consider that sound is touch, from a distance.

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some seasonal visuals:

check out kenneth’s gallery of snowflake images. amazingly beautiful.

snowflake

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nuh uh. started on the 1st of December, runs thru the 1st of January.

so i’ve already missed a day. crapsnart. *ties string around finger as reminder*

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