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The Greatest Gifts Shared Were the Songs

As the nights stretch steadily longer, eclipsing the waning daylight hours, my sun-loving-self plunges and stumbles into the spiritual depths. The seed buried deep under the earth and the insect shrouded in its chrysalis both remind me that darkness holds the possibility of nourishment, hope, transformation, and new life.

As we in the northern hemisphere approach the shortest day of the year, the deepening darkness holds a persistent promise of the coming light. In Christian traditions, this is a time of remembrance and expectation. We recall how love collapsed the space between the Creator and the Creation in the mystery of the Incarnation — and we anticipate the ultimate incorporation of all into this perfect communion.

Paradox runs through the season of Advent like a shining thread, weaving together transcendence in imminence, power in vulnerability, kairos in chronos, the ultimate in the intimate. I find myself woven into this fabric even as my heart stretches wide to hold such mystery. Sometimes that stretching, that tension, hums with music like the strings pulled taut over the bridge of an instrument.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I retreated into my bedroom to record People, Look East!, a collection of homespun songs old and new, borrowed and of my own creation, inspired by the season of Advent. A poem by a wise teacher, Patrick Twohy, nudged me to share these songs with you. Speaking of the power of songs among his dear friends, the Coast Salish community, he writes:

The Most Wonderful Gift
But the greatest gifts shared were the Songs
That carried the People through the dark nights.
Like rain held for a moment in the high branches
of the tall cedars, then released to shower gently
upon the dark earth below,
These songs came down, moistening hearts,
Renewing the inmost roots of the People’s being.
These songs came down, visiting the villages
Sending strength out like medicine
To the life sleeping within all things,
Until the sun returned, and light would fill
Mountain and valley, marsh, river, and sea
with the green motion of life.

It is my hope that my songs, born of my own bewilderment and delight, longing and joy, may be for you something of that gift, that gentle rain, that strength, that medicine.

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