This holiday season found me several times in church — of all places…
OK, so I’m in love with one of the choir members, but there was more than that — the warmth, the hope, the heartfelt emotion, the sense of community: summing up, you don’t have to be a believer to believe in the power of love — and the beauty of Christmas. So here’s Judy Collins singing about what started it all:
Merry Christmas from Robbie, Levon, Rick, Richard and Garth. They were known simply as “The Band” —
This song’s simple beauty can make me cry at Christmas time. Here’s the late Eva Cassidy singing “Silent Night” –
My great and beautiful friend, the much-lamented Robert Lax, wrote this in the prologue to his masterwork “Circus of the Sun:”
And in the beginning was love. Love made a sphere:
all things grew within it; the sphere then encompassed
beginnings and endings, beginning and end. Love
had a compass whose whirling dance traced out a
sphere of love in the void: in the center thereof
rose a fountain.
Bob, in his life and in his words, strove to lead a simple life of love and devotion and peace. I’m thinking of this today, two days before Christmas, because I’m very aware this year of the simple joys and gifts I possess and will celebrate during this Yuletide.
I think that one reason I’m so grateful this year is that it feels to me like the whole goddamned world is falling apart, disintegrating, like we’re barreling toward oblivion at warp speed and pieces are blowing away as if our heat shield has failed.
But the other day I sat in a church – not a typical place for me to be — and watched and listened as a choir sang traditional Christmas carols. My eyes filled up with tears. Part of it was feeling connected to a nice group of people who are very human in both their frailty and their collective strength, and very welcoming to a relative stranger. Part of it was just feeling the simple power of the hope that still resides in Christmas. And part of it was that I couldn’t take my eyes off one of the altos, who sang with such heartfelt joy that it made me love her even more.
Mostly, though, it has to do with this, which my friend Bob knew and which he taught me: Love is the beginning and the end. It’s as simple as all that.
So I count my blessings…
I’m alive, and in pretty good health. I’ve got three great children, each of them remarkable in their own way. I have caring, devoted, supportive friends. My mother’s going on 81 years old and still shovels snow from her sidewalk and plants a garden every year and still calls me “Nicky.” I’ve got an absolutely beautiful 15-month-old granddaughter who can’t stop smiling and waves to me when we Skype and blows kisses to me over the phone when she can’t see me but can hear my voice. And, no, I don’t have enough money, and, no, the publishing world has not yet recognized my genius, but someday I will, and someday they will, and more important anyway than fame or fortune is the gift of being in love with an incredibly beautiful and gentle woman who loves me in return, and that we’ll be together for Christmas this year.
So, Merry Christmas! I hope you’ll find time to count your blessings, too. Here’s Diana Krall to put you in the mood: