How does a group of singers have a carol sing safely during a pandemic involving a respiratory illness? The picture says it all: on a softball field in safely distanced golf carts! (I’m third one in from the left. Looks like a scene from the movie Cars.)
My dad and his wife have been part of a choral group where they live. The group decided to have carol sing to lift their spirits and the spirits of others. I got roped in. I thought I was simply going to support dad and hang with the “audience”. No! I was upfront, with the singers, behind a mic. Admittedly, I was in my element. I blended in with my grey hair. After all, I am old enough to live where my dad lives!
We were singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I was doing some descant when I noticed my dad was no longer singing. Instantly, I knew he was tearful. I didn’t have to look to know; we are both criers when our tender hearts are surprised by the blessedness of a moment. In that moment of realization, my voice fell silent as I too felt my throat constrict and tears well up. I turned to him tearful and laughing, “Dad, if you get started I’m going to get started. I can’t do this and sing.” And we put our arms around each other and made sounds kind of like singing as we finished the song. It was a beautiful moment, really. It was a moment that would have never happened had I not allowed myself to step into something new and different. It was a memory we made and I know will forever be available to recall for comfort and joy.
The pandemic has put a pall on so much of what we are accustomed to. I find myself resisting both the interior “Ain’t it awful” monologue AND the exterior “Ain’t it awful” cacophony. Yes, it is awful AND human beings are resilient and creative. I am grateful for people who are tending their resilience so they can help others. I am grateful for people who are creative, showing us all how to modulate and modify in order to keep on keeping on.
Making memories is an important activity for us. These memories make up the stories that sustain us in difficult times and bring us contentment in reflective moments. The ability to make memories has not been taken away; it is something we can still do. We just need to be creative, and it’s hard to be creative when all we can do is look around and say, “Ain’t it awful”.
“Do this in remembrance of me” is an instruction we receive every week at the Table of Christ. What are memories you will create this Christmas season for the sake of Christ coming into our world and into your living? It is not going to be the same, so this is an opportunity to create something new or a little different. This season is an opportunity to allow yourself to be (as C.S. Lewis put it) surprised by sacred joy, just as I was on a softball field, unexpectedly standing at a mic in front of a golf cart with my dad.