Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This is Love.

It has been a year of wonder. A year of sorrow. A year of joy. A year in which to grow, to bend, to lean into fear, to turn into the wind and take gusts of adversity on the cheek. A year to face tough times head on, never bending beneath the weight of life’s daily grind pounding away at our fortitude and commitment to making a difference.

It has been a year to leap for joy at unexpected moments cascading down upon our heads in rainbows of living colour. A year to laugh and shout and live out loud. It has been a year to embrace challenge and release regret. A year to welcome help from unexpected quarters, to walk away from disorder, chaos, pain. To stand firm on the shifting grounds of the world around us. A year to surrender anger and fall into love.

As we move into this season of faith, hope and joy let us embrace this time to heal, to forgive, to surrender. Let us begin again, renewed by our commitment to stand together in this season of peace on earth and goodwill amongst men.

In every season a little rain must fall.

And, as it does in northern climes, a little snow too!

This year we are promised a white Christmas. A Christmas where the sound of sleigh bells ringing on city streets is drowned out by the thrumming roar of snowplows clearing pavement for safe winter passage.

How the time's they do change.

Horses never had to worry about 360s and sliding into a snow drift while dashing through the snow .

How the time's they are a changing.

On Monday, my sister and I went to listen to my mother's hand bell choir at the lodge where she lives. About twelve seniors sat behind music stands positioned on the white table cloth in front of them and treated their audience of family members and friends and other residents to a flurry of Christmas Carols on their bells.

It took me back to my daughters' annual Christmas concerts and dance productions. Those special times when with eager anticipation we, their family and friends, waited for the lights to dim around us as the stage lights came up and there, before us, shiny and bright, stood our sons and daughters. Dancing. Singing. Acting. Reading poetry and Christmas tales, they graced us with the wonder of their magical beings here on earth.

Those were special times. Times I waited for almost as eagerly as my daughters. Sugar plum fairies and Santa's helpers, Alexis and Liseanne shone in the light of adoration -- not to mention they were the best one's on stage too! Okay. Just kidding. All the little girls and boys were spectacular. (My daughters just happened to be extra gifted! -- at least in my loving eyes.)

And that's the thing about Christmas concerts. We their beholders sit in wonder as we watch almost as intently as the performers sharing their lines, dancing their steps, singing their song. We watch for every nuance. Gasp with every high note hit. Sigh with relief for every line crossed off with grace and ease.

We sit in awe of our children standing on stage sharing their hearts so effortlessly and freely with us, their adoring audience.

On Monday, awe descended as I watched my mother, a tiny birdlike woman of eight-seven years of age, sit with rapt intent, reading the music, watching the choir master and ringing her bells.

The twelve members of the choirs sat with Santa hats firmly planted on their heads, facing the audience. The choir master stood at the front of the choir, her back to us. She motioned for C's and F sharps and B minors to be played. Her arms floated through the air with the grace of a dove in flight. Her head bobbed up and down in time to the music. The bell ringers' heads bobbed up and down. A foot tapped here and there. A hand played music on the table top. As the choir master motioned each player lifted her bell or pressed down on the stock and melodious sounds floated up into the air. Each face was a vision of concentration. Each hand poised in silent anticipation for that one motion, that one note that they needed to contribute to make the music ring forth in harmony.

And, like every choir, there was that one participant who played or sang or danced to the beat of a different drummer. That one person who couldn't quite get into the rhythm and left it up to the heaven's to find the harmony in their notes. With over-eager gusto, they lifted their bell and rang it whenever the spirit moved them.

And a joyous sound rang forth.

When my daughters were small some of my favourite times were those times in the quiet anticipation of the show about to begin. The lights would dim and there in front me they stood on stage. In the darkness of my audience seat I sat and watched without ever taking my eyes off them. Which, given that they used to think I was weird for wanting to just sit and watch them in awe, it was nice to have a legitimate excuse to just sit and watch!

There was no judgement in my watching. No looking for mistakes. Watching out for hidden meaning or slights of hand. I simply watched in awe.

My mother is frail and aged. It has been a long time since I sat and watched my mother with awe. I wonder where the awe went? I remember a time as a child when I watched her hands when she talked and thought, "How beautiful. They're like tiny birds in flight." I actually remember thinking, "I want my hands to move like that." And I learned to speak with my hands, just like my mother.

I don't spend a lot of time with mother these days. I still speak with my hands but I don't spend a lot of time speaking with her. My sister, Jackie, is her primary care giver. Jackie has the patience I lack. The compassionate heart and tender mercies needed to attend to my mother's needs with grace and ease.

For my mother and I, distance keeps us safe from harmful words that rend the harmony between us. I love my mother. But somewhere in the journey from childhood awe to adulthood, I've lost that special place to be at peace in her company. To sit in awe of her company.

Sitting in the audience though, I got to watch her without fear. I got to see her beauty. Her gentle spirit. Her lightness of being. I got to sit and watch in awe as she rang her bell and made beautiful music.

It was a magical moment. A moment of good tidings and joy. For wrapped up in that moment was the memory of all those special times when I could watch my daughters without fear of getting caught in adoration.

May we all be filled with adoration today. May we all know that special awe of sitting in silent wonder of those we love dancing and singing and joyfully expressing all that is beautiful and wondrous about them. May we see their wonder and know, This is Love.


Brandi said...

That was beautiful - thank you for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Louise,
Thank-you for your beautiful, kind words today which brought tears to my eyes. I, too, miss the youthful concerts of Alexis and Liseanne and I especially miss making a Gingerbread House every year with the girls! Time marches on as we all age and our situations and positions in the family change. I was thrilled that you were at Mom's Handbell Choir Concert and I know that Mom was REALLY pleased to see you. I am truly thankful for our wonderful family and that we have each other to share happiness,joy and sorrow. May this Christmas and the New Year bring Good Health, Peace and Joyfulness to all of us.
Love you forever, Jackie

Maureen said...

I am late today coming to read your post but it ends my online evening with the best of words.

Great photo of you, of your mother, too. And there is such tenderness in your sister's note above.

This is Love. Indeed.

May yours be a joyous Christmas, dear friend.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Hello all. And thank you.

And Maureen my lovely friend -- tee hee -- that is actually a photo of my eldest daughter! :)

When she was born, friends said, Oh look! Louise without teeth! Even her friends can't tell pics of me at her age from her.

I am blessed.

Blessings and joy to each of you.

Love Louise

Anonymous said...


great piece. I'm going to post in as the Dec. 25 feature on 360boom

seems a better fit than anything else

merry ho+ho day to you and yours


M.L. Gallagher said...

Thank you Mark. I am honoured.

Merry Christmas and Merry Ho+Ho to you and yours!