Rev. Lora Brandis
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all – Emily Dickinson
Oh, Emily I do think that sometimes hope stops singing. There have been many times in my life when hope has perched on my soul and I have sung along with it, the heaviness of the moment lifted from my shoulders. And then what I had hoped for – the expected outcome did not come to be. What I had hoped for didn’t come to pass and hope stopped singing. Looking back, I realize that I had clung too fiercely to what I thought hope was offering. What I now know is that hope doesn’t offer a specific result. It just offers a chance to sing.
I admit that I am not a big fan of Christmas – all that build up to a day that never goes exactly the way I had hoped it would. I am a fan of the build up, however. I like the preparation. I like the unpacking of the ornaments, the revisiting of the memories held in plastic spoons turned into reindeer by my children and letters to Santa written long ago.
Every year at Christmas, I read to my children when they were young The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto] by Madeleine L’Engle. It’s a traditional telling of Jesus’ life, beautifully accompanied by reproductions of the 13th century artist’s frescoes. I wanted my children to know all the stories told at Christmas – not just the ones about Santa Claus – and I wanted them to be exposed to beautiful, historic art. Unpacking the myths of the season could come when they were older.
I wanted my children to know the simple basics: that stories told at Christmas are often about believing in “glorious impossibles.” Stories told at this time of year often illustrate that the darkness of the season always gives way to more light. I wanted my children’s lives to be grounded in hope.
I have been re-teaching myself how to play the piano; re-teaching myself the bass clef mostly. I was hopeful that I could be good enough to play a few Christmas carols this year that the whole family could sing along with. I may not be able to play the more complicated versions that are in the hymnal. I’ll probably have to play the simpler, more basic versions out of the level one piano book. Christmas Day probably won’t look exactly like I’d hoped it would, but we will sing.