Advent Day 7

In that house, Fridsma’s, the mem  would call

into shadows from the little reed organ

crammed in the kitchen, “Children, come–

we will sing some psalms.” It would teach them,

she said, to be unafraid in the dark

before coming through to the cheer of the light

to see by, when it would come.

–from “Frisian Psalms, 1930s” by Rod Jellema, in A Slender Grace

Erik and I went back to our college for the first time in about 8 years, mostly for the Christmas Festival, partly just to get out of town and spend some time together.

We were in the 4th row. I could see the sweat on the conductors. I could hear my first-year womens choir director’s heavy breaths and sighs when she was getting really into it. I could see the violinists smiling at interpersonal jokes, and I got to look into the eyes of my old directors when they turned to direct the congregation to sing.

And, of course, the music was about as perfect as it gets.

For 2 hours, everything was right with the world, and I remembered what it felt like to spend all that time in choir rehearsal, to sing those songs over and over and over again until they were buried so deeply within my muscle memory that, 10 years later, I had to hold my body back from joining in on the songs that were repeats from my college years.

It was hard to drive away, knowing that I don’t have quite good enough a voice, let alone the spare time, to sing in that amazing a choir again right now.

I think I was a more optimistic person in college…optimistic about the state of the world, about where I was going and who would be coming my way, open to more options and possibilities.

But what you sing sinks in deeply. And the memory of it gets you through the dark.

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