The world news has been full of hate and horror. The national news in the States is full of blowhards and arguments. But somehow, for me, it all comes back to this sodden weather. Which seems the worst kind of entitled, first-world whining. But the luke-warm drizzle outside simply doesn’t feel like the right season. I keep taking my jolly off, like a sweater that’s a little too heavy for the day.
I am also a bit frantic. At least that’s normal. Even with my book promo put aside for a couple of weeks, I forget things. I feel guilty about even writing this blog entry. I could be baking. I could be practicing dulcimer more, for the music I have to make on Christmas Eve. I could be being more patient with my hard-working, Christmas-loving organist husband, who gets a little grumpy around this time of year. So many notes to play! I want him to be happy with the music he makes. I think I actually worry for him so he won’t have to, which is just plain nutty when you think about it. I have read that worriers are actually smart and effective people, because they anticipate and solve problems. If that’s true, I should be the queen of Mensa. And super-duper mad effective—which I most surely am not.
So. On Sunday afternoon, I went to an Episcopal Lessons and Carols service that Ken had volunteered to sing. I was brought up in the Episcopal church, and I still like God and Jesus pretty much, especially Jesus. Still consider myself to be an Episcopalian. Ken’s pay gig is with the Presbyterians. I’m in his choir and I hadn’t been to an Episcopal service in a long time. Lots was familiar: bowing when I crossed in front of the altar, crossing myself, all the stuff that's part of my traditional church's spell. I've always found that part of my faith deeply comforting.
I wasn't singing this time, and after the bell rang to start the service, I stood up and watched the choir process past me. There was Ken, in his fancy vestment: black cassock and flowing white cotta. We worked together in an Episcopal church for years, and he's always loved wearing that thing. And then I listened to the readings—the Lessons. I wasn’t so sure about them this time. There’s that one about The Fall, about Adam pinning it on the willful, self-indulgent Eve, the obvious way the narrative plays compare and contrast with Mary’s incredible strength, her powerful yes to the Angel at the Annunciation when she gets the news that she'll be carrying Jesus.
I felt rebellious. Is that all women are supposed to do: assent? Pick up ALL the responsibility? All the laundry, all the Christmas cards, all the shopping, and the aged parent care, and the planning and and and….
But then I thought about The Magnificat, the rest of Mary’s response to the angel: “my soul magnifies the Lord”. It’s full of the powerful being cast down and the weak and poor being raised up. It’s, as one good blog I read this season has it, bad-ass. The Magnificat is no meek “oh well, okay.” It’s a battle-cry. And it really doesn’t have anything to do with women and men. In fact, that Joseph sticks with Mary despite her pregnancy of dubious origin is not just the punchline of some “He was a VERY good man to believe THAT” joke. It’s a decision that’s every bit as bad-ass as hers. Utterly impossible, and for that reason, oddly real--at least to me.
As a writer, I think all words, properly employed, have the potential to be Scripture. The Lessons and Carols also include the lines “In the beginning, there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” All the light in the universe is in that line, I think—and that’s got to be a bit more important than the insipid weather outdoors!
See you in the New Year! And Merry Christmas!