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.