In 1741, George Frideric Handel composed "Messiah", and with it, the ubiquitous yuletide "Hallelujah Chorus". This weekend Eastern Nazarene College, Janet's alma mater, will be performing this oratorio for the 75th consecutive year. It is my intention to be there with Janet when they do.
This Christmas season, Benjamin's first, has already gotten off to a disturbing beginning. The state of the economy is being likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s: Layoffs are being announced daily, people are losing their homes, and the heavy saddle of debt is a constantly looming concern for many households. But overshadowing this by many orders of magnitude is the dark spectre of Janet's mother's illness.
The diagnosis came last summer. A month before Benjamin was born, Janet's parents sat us down and informed us. The hope, with successful treatment, was five years. In short time, treatment was to begin, then to be followed by additional procedures. The former proved so devastating to her system that the latter was soon called into question and then, following an episode, ruled out entirely. The thread of life is now measured in weeks.
A casual glance toward the calendar places a fortnight devastatingly close to Christmas Day. No one wants to lose anyone they love, least of all anyone so dear as one's own mother; however, for so disconsolate an event to happen at this time of year compounds the situation and stains Christmas for years to come. And so, it's this darkness against which I am simultaneously bracing and fearing, that not only this Christmas, but the next, and the next, will be impacted by what we dread today. A baby boy ought not have to see his mother crying at Christmas time.
And so I will file into the concert hall at ENC tomorrow evening. I'm going to wear a tie and a jacket. I'm going to take a seat in the balcony, in the center. With luck, friends and family will join me. And there, with waves of sound inspired by the rushing wind of angel's wings swirling about me, I'm going to listen to Messiah. I'm going to let it lift me out of this sorrow and set me just a little closer to God. Just for a little while.