Hidden Hallelujahs

 
Now that we have baked our cookies and trimmed our trees,
now that we have wrapped our gifts and planned our dinners,
now that we have hung stockings and sent greetings and set tables,
assembled toys and trimmed wicks, written Santa and hung wreaths,
the time has come to abandon it all,
if only for a moment.
As we turn to our day of celebration,
Wisdom turns to extinguish the colorful strings of lights and dim the gleaming star.
Wisdom pinches out her candles,
sighs the music away and sends laughter drifting off to rest in deepening piles of silence.
Standing in stillness before her window,
Wisdom gazes toward one of the deepest mysteries of Christmas
And smiles at this truth: Christmas needs us not at all.
Christmas doesn’t depend on our planning for its existence
and it cares not a whit for our preparations.
Christmas is not a sale, a dinner, a gathering or party.
Christmas is neither the worship of believers
nor the rituals of the world.
Christmas is everywhere and nowhere at once,
Like moonlight or a passing breeze.
It is the song of a hidden bird and the thrill of sudden flight.
It is a hallelujah sung in secret
by exultant, broken-winged angels.
Christmas is a voice
telling an unbelievable tale with the confidence of a child
who murmurs to a single, astonished heart.
Christmas is a song rising and lilting to confound arrogance and pride.
Christmas is a sob, a peal of laughter, a ripple of joy ringing through the night,
A sudden gasp of exaltation and love.
Christmas is a story,
words piled upon words and more words,
stacked ever higher by invisible hands
until their form resonates with mystery and beauty.
In language so plain,
so simple and unadorned we nearly miss the mystery of it all,
St. John tells us Christmas is a celebration of the Word,
a blessed confrontation with the source and sustenance of life.
In the beginning was the Word, our good Saint says,
and at the end will be the Word.
And in these middle times where the longings of our hearts meet the limits of our lives,
the same Word that spoke order out of chaos,
that enrobed itself in human flesh and came to enliven both heaven and earth
echoes down the corridors of our lives.
The Word of Christmas is a Word of promise and hope.
It is a Word that stands in the midst of emptiness.
It is a Word that cuts a path through brokenness and pain.
It is a Word that challenges every easy assumption of our lives
and it is a Word sung best by angels,
their voices rising strong and sure into the night.
These are the nights when angels sing.
And if the tune has changed,
if the lyrics seem unfamiliar,
if the secret chords that compel their song
seem unlikely to have echoed that first Christmas night,
it is the same Word still.
Hallelujah

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12 thoughts on “Hidden Hallelujahs

  1. A Sonnet For The Season

    Appearing just seconds post Halloween
    Were the jingle bells and Kris Kringle elves.
    Thanksgiving got lost somewhere in between
    As merchants eagerly stocked up their shelves
    With holiday gear and bargains galore.
    Customers vying for flat screen TVs
    And video games lined outside the store,
    Shoving and pushing without saying please.
    Folks feel compelled to consume to excess
    In this dreary time of darkness and cold chills.
    We think more stuff will guarantee happiness
    But the hangover comes with January’s bills.
    This is my prayer for the chaos to cease.
    Light the heart’s candle in hope for world peace.

    Jennifer,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s a complex season, isn’t it? – with the commercial and spiritual so closely intertwined.
    I hope your celebration is peaceful and satisfying, and you enter the New Year with hope.

    Linda

  2. Warmest wishes for a blessed Christmas, Linda. Enjoy your time with family and guests today, tomorrow, the next twelve days and beyond. May the spirit of Christmas permeate every day of the new year… and I await more inspiring posts in 2010!

    Arti,

    Thank you so much for your kind wishes. I’m doing my part to nurture that Christmas spirit – focusing less on the politicians and more on carols and cookies! I know it’s a blessing for you to have your son home – soon enough the new year will begin with its routines and challenges, but this is the time to bask in the goodness of life.

    Merry Christmas!

    Linda

  3. How beautiful. Wishing you the merriest of Christmases today, tomorrow and every day!

    jeanie,

    It’s been such fun to share preparations for this Christmas with you – and to share some of your talent with others! Well, that has to wait until tomorrow, but the time will come.

    A blessed, peaceful Christmas to you and yours – and Dixie sends a purr to Gypsy!

    Linda

  4. Linda: As always a thoughtful and well-considered piece.

    Jeanie passed on your nudge and now there is a new piece on dissent decree.

    Do have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year. I look forward to more of your insightful and inspiring writings in 2010.

    Mike

    Mike,

    I just love it – virtual nudges made concrete! It certainly gives “ask, and ye shall receive” a new twist ;-) I’ll be sure to visit DD this evening.

    It’s been wonderful getting to know you this year. Your photography and writing are so stimulating and interesting – I hope they give you as much pleasure as they give us. And I hope your Christmas was wonderful. A New Year’s just around the corner, and it will be exciting to see what it holds.

    Linda

  5. In anticipation of the Hallelujah, I waited till Astrid was ready and turned on the YouTube, Linda. We immediately both stood up and danced through the entire 6+ minutes of K.D. Lang, with tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts. You know that this is one of my favorite songs/renditions of all time. You’ve just given me another beautiful Christmas Eve gift (it’s almost 10p our time in Holland right now). Thank you! My heart is full of hidden Hallelujahs right now!

    Ginnie,

    At last! The family has moved on, the cat is asleep, mom’s happy among her gifts and I can begin creeping back toward normalcy. I’m so happy every time I think of you in your new world, dancing half-a-world away. I hope your holiday was simply wonderful – I’ll bet I’ll find some photos to tell the story when I go looking tonight!

    Linda

  6. Hey “Shores”,

    Thanks for another lovely gift after so many you’ve given this year. I hope you and yours will be blessed
    in the New Year with Health, Peace and Love (and that you’ll keep on delighting us with your fine work.)

    Mike

    Mike,

    Merry Christmas to you! I hope your holiday was lovely, and that the New Year brings you all that you’ve wished for others.

    We did have a lovely holiday, though filled with far more activity than any of us are accustomed to. Now, after a day of domestic catchup and general laziness, it’s time to begin considering… where do we go from here? It’s the wonderful challenge of every new year – to evaluate, re-decide and move on – and it’s always made the week between Christmas and New Year’s my favorite of the year.

    Now, I just need to get some energy back!

    Linda

  7. Merry Christmas, Linda. I’m so glad that I met you this year! You touch my heart with your poignant and insightful posts; you are one of the blessings of my 2009.

    Bellezza,

    One of the first (and only bits) of Italian I’ve learned is, “Fate il mio sorriso il cuore”. You do indeed make my heart smile, and I see a whole year of smiles ahead. Your blog not only is beautiful, it’s unfailingly gracious – a blessing to us all.

    Linda

  8. Well, I must echo Bellezza! Thank you for the many gifts of guidance, insight, support and friendship. Thank you for all of your wonderful essays, poems, photographs, and musical selections (cannot get Ms. lang’s voice out of my head!). Thank you for being you, and for being here. Hallelujah, indeed!

    Merry, merry Christmas Linda–and to your mom and Dixie Rose too.

    ds ~

    After my little “vacation”, it’s wonderful to find you here. Having cooked and cleaned and wrapped and organized, I’m filled with awe for people like you who do this blogging thing in the midst of family as well as work. I’ve decided, quite cheerfully, mind you, that I’m a bit of a disorganized sluggard.
    I’ll surely do something about that this coming year… or perhaps not ;-)

    I do hope your holiday was filled with love and blessings. You’ve been a blessing for me.

    Linda

  9. Linda, I’m here to wish you and your family the most merriest of Christmases. I hope your day is filled with joy and delight and all the hope and peace that Christmas promises.

    Carl,

    I appreciate it so much. This was a wonderful Christmas for us, and an amazing blessing to have both my mom and her sister feeling well and able to share the day together.

    Soon, it will be a New Year, filled with even more hope and promise – I look forward to sharing it with you.

    Linda

  10. Christmas comes in an unexpected snow.

    A savior comes in an unexpected babe.

    Both set us free, to put aside the good for the better. No need to prepare brunch for twelve with the blizzard leaving my guests home bound. The snow invites me to worship the Christmas that has come rather than the one I had so carefully planned.

    And in the silent night, I light a candle and think of St. John’s gospel — the light of the world is born, as pure as fresh fallen snow.

    Merry Christmas, Linda.

    Janell,

    My aunt and cousin came from Kansas City, scooting south just ahead of the bad weather – we’re grateful they’re here, and they’re grateful they aren’t there! But what a delight for you – a historic snowfall, a little extra silence, and a chance to celebrate in a different way.

    No matter how it comes, Christmas is wonderful. That’s the blessing.

    Linda

  11. Merry Christmas, Linda. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so generously this year. “May your days be merry and bright!” And merry merry holly jolly to Mom and Dixie – thanks for also sharing them with us :)
    Peace and love – qu

    qugrainne ~

    How lovely to find your greeting. I can’t believe I’ve had things “on hold” for only three days – it feels like forever! I do hope your Christmas was as lovely as your Advent postings for us. I’m so excited to see what this New Year will bring!

    Linda

  12. Cohen’s “Allelujah” tears me up in little pieces and then puts me back together again. What a song. And funny I stop here now; HM is watching a Leonard Cohen special! We are sincere fans.

    That aside, I must wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas to you, Dixie and your Mom. Hope all is well on your piece of the coast and I look forward to all your fine pieces and pictures and perspective in the New Year.

    Hey, we have a dusting of snow! It arrived, as though perfectly requested and delivered, on Christmas Day!

    more later–
    Oh

    Oh,

    I’m so glad you got your Christmas snow! My aunt and cousin, who shared the holiday with us, were congratulating themselves on not being in Kansas City, where the rest of the clan got a full foot of the white stuff.

    It was sheer joy having family together for the first time in years. Now they’re gone, and it’s my favorite week of the year – there’s something about the time between Christmas and New Year’s I love. Maybe it’s the lingering holiday feel, without all the holiday chores.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Cohen. I first heard the Hallelujah on a tv show, actually, and it was another year or so before I discovered it was Cohen’s. When I found out, I wasn’t surprised.

    A happy New Year to you – won’t it be fun to see what this one brings?

    Linda

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