Month: December 2011

the candle

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It is warm, the lights low. Strings of lights curl unevenly around four trees, which stand across the altar, sans ornaments.

We are are holding chinsy, battery powered candles, not the real thing. That would be way too dangerous.

The band plays along, without a bass or acoustic guitar.

For all the compromises on authenticity, there is peace. For just a moment, we all forget about the family drama, the economic uncertainties and our health woes as we sing Silent Night.

A solo voice sings out the lyrics in German. Her voice isn’t all that stunning, but there is a clarity to it. I sing along to the few phrases I remember from high school choir.

I glance at the two empty seats in front of us, my mom’s coat and my scarf still draped over them, saving them even though we knew didn’t need to. My heart aches. Their consent that they would come had been half hearted. Somehow I had let myself hold onto the shred of possibility that they would.

I tell myself it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.

I focus on the light flickering between my hand. Even though it is dull, it still pushes back the dimness. It still serves as a little ray of hope that someday things will change.

The congregation joins once more in the final verse. All is calm, all is bright, they sing. In this moment, I think, that is true.


a promise

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It’s a crisp morning, the kind that is cold enough to graze a windshield with frost. But not so cold as to see your breath.

I pull into the driveway of the church where I work, my mittens resting on the steering wheel. The neighboring hillside of vines is on fire with colors. The textured mix of red, yellow and orange is almost unnatural.  The surrounding hills breathe tufts of clouds. Beads of dew gather in clusters.

For a moment I forget about the list of worries that has been cycling in my mind and breathe in the morning.

It feels like a promise.

Somehow, that scene gets lost in the obligations of the day. The phone calls and the stresses. The juggling of tasks. The minor irritations of everyday life.

The dew evaporates and the clouds clear. This withdrawal of moisture gives the day its worry lines.

At 5 p.m., I let the heavy door of my office fall closed behind me. The weight in my chest pins me down. Fatigue pulls heavily at my eyelids.

But scene that stretches before me is too dramatic to view with eyes half closed. The sun is resting on the horizon. The sky is painted in broad strokes of pastels. Pink ribbons of light curl up in the clouds. I stand and stare at the dramatic piece of art that has bookended my day.

And it feels like a promise.