All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, December 27, 2019

Sorry. What you're hearing on TV ain't right. Joy wins!

Two songs come to mind for me this Christmas season: one very old, one very new.

I remember having to lead singing at a Christmas Carol Sing while still a teenager in high school. I ran across the little carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and didn’t much care for the music. The verses were so short, and there were so many of them. I concluded that it would not be a pleasant musical experience. But I loved the words! While a pianist played the melody, I recited the verses.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem as a result of a very personal Civil War experience in 1863. But the lyrics apply to the USA today with precision.

The poem starts innocently enough:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

However, as a result of his traumatic experience, the texts kept getting darker until, in exasperation, he wrote:

And in despair I bowed my head ;
"There is no peace on earth," I said ;
    "For hate is strong
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men !"

Sound like today in our country? But then he concludes with these beautiful words, which I’m clinging to today:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

The second song was performed by my friend John Mulder, written by him and Robert Lindsay. Again, the circumstances had nothing to do with today’s political or social woes. John was waiting for a lung transplant that was needed to save his life. His eternal optimism shined through the song: Joy wins!

He sets the stage with these words:

Here in the light, here in this place
With stones and storms and sorrows scattered ‘bout
Beyond the shadows, if I look the other way
I find joy in the heart of my doubt

Then he reaches a conclusion with the same optimism that Longfellow exuded:

There are many ways to find my way back home
Through ups and downs, all the outs and ins
And at the moment where joy and sorrow meet
Joy wins

I’ve decided that’s where we must let our minds rest this Christmas week, with all the garbage and bitter rhetoric that I’m hearing on the news. An elderly black woman once told my daughter, when Sue was manager of a nursing home, “Ain’t nobody goin’ to steal my joy!”

Every one of our kids and grand-kids gathered for the holiday this week for the first time in years. Not an unkind word. Lots of laughter. Lots of love.

John Mulder was right on the money!

No matter what’s going on, Joy wins!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for this reminder Doug. I get sucked into the negativity of the times and it is nice to be reminded that joy is ours if we want it, no matter where we find ourselves in life!