Hello and well-wishes from Deacon Tom and Dee Fox. We greet and care for the Sweeney Family in Texas. And through this column, we hope we reach some or many of their listeners. We send you Christmas greetings and warm holiday wishes.
We have a person in our family who has been through a lot. She is twice divorced and currently a single mom. She is raising a teen and two young children. She has become quite toughened by life experiences, some resulting from impetuous decisions she’s made. She has often said she has virtually lost the capability to cry any more. Now while she is a very good and caring person, and does things for the poor and needy, things don’t deeply move her or touch her heart. I think this is so sad, and we pray for this person quite a bit.
On the other hand, I am an unabashed softy. So many things move me and get me ‘verklempt.’ Many months ago on the Catholic Mom site, I wrote a column on the Gift of Tears — and would you believe I’m still getting email about the words I shared there? There are a number of us who are touched — or pricked by a beauty unseen by others.
I guess there would be a goodly segment of the world, especially the macho men who would say you don’t have to cry to be a nice person. True enough.
There are things that quickly touch my heart, and I wonder if you have such areas? Not the same ones as I have of course. But do you have special areas of tenderness?
Yesterday, my wife and I went to a Christmas chorale concert. For our small town, this is a wonderful group — 70 some strong. Men and women and some teens — all who love to sing. They have auditioned and when chosen, they have rehearsed for months to put on two shows at Christmas and two shows in the Spring.
When 70 people blend their voices to share beautiful Christian hymns — and a number of nice commercial holiday tunes — this softens me up for Christmas. There must have been 300 appreciative people in the audience, and we stood at the conclusion of the uplifting seasonal concert.
Speaking of music — one of my all-time favorite Christmas CD’s is called WINTERFALL. The music is led by Lee Spears and Donna Beck Michael and was produced and published by Thistlegate Productions. This album features a hammered dulcimer, piano, guitar, English horn and a cello. On a website called Christmasreviews.com, a Carol Swanson wrote these words, “This excellent recording is minimalist instrumental folk music of the sweetest kind. The music is oh-so-soothing and even life-affirming. This recording is not fearful of silence, letting thoughtful pauses speak volumes… I have two favorite cuts on Winterfall, and they are the final two on the disc. “Midnight Clear” (“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”) is an exquisite arrangement, an intensely beautiful mélange built upon a complex and fragile structure.” Swanson concludes her review: “Winterfall is an excellent Christmas CD. In a high-anxiety world of over-cranked volumes, this recording is a breath of fresh winter air.” We played a little bit from one of the cuts of this CD on our Catholic Vitamin N – Nativity program released recently.
Why consume so many words about a CD you may never hear? Because to listen to this CD is to experience what Carol Swanson and the Deke and his daughter have experienced. It touches us and says the season of Christ’s birth is almost here’ when we start playing Winterfall.
Oh — one more (almost silly) thing as I think about music. Many years ago I found an inexpensive album with the late John Denver and the Muppets. It’s called A CHRISTMAS TOGETHER. As hokey as the Muppets may sound when talking about Christmas music, I really enjoy some of the cuts, e.g. The Peace Carol and a wonderful gospel-sounding song, “When the River Meets the Sea.”
As I began the thought process of preparing this piece for the Catholic Family site, my thoughts were about asking you if your heart is hardened at and by the Christmas season? Have you lost the capability to be moved by It’s a Great Life when you see a replay of that movie? Have you lost the capability to smile deeply by children in a nativity play? Have you lost the capability to see beauty in a season when you’ve got gifts to buy and wrap and decorations to put up and not enough real help around the house?
I would bet that the Infant of Bethlehem wouldn’t wish that upon you. He’d love for you to be happy and be open enough to be touched by the Christmas message once again. In the song When the River Meets the Sea, there are these words, “We are born and born again most gracefully… when the river meets the Almighty Sea.”
You and I are the river. We are invited to see and contribute to the beauty of God’s work on earth. You and I might do well to ask the Lord for a special gift this Christmas: “Lord — in some way, let us hear the angels who sing for you also sing for us. Just as the angels sang to brighten skies over the area of your birth, and were heard by people waiting in hope, let it be so for us. Whether at a nursing home or in a Christmas concert or a child’s tender efforts at a Christmas gift for us… Lord, let Your music of this season and of renewal touch our hearts.