Fast forward several years from my last post. Christmastime at college…my first year living away from home. Somehow it just doesn’t feel like Christmas…
I’m a bit lonely, melancholy… In between classes, in a rare moment of nowhere particular to be, I wander the main promenade, hugging my books to my chest. I smile then, thinking of an old carol about wondering while I’m wandering… And how, yes, those palm trees are swaying in a long line down the mall as I enjoy the sun and the light breeze on my face. The chapel clock tower far at the other end of campus chimes noon, and I count the bells till they reach twelve.
Something gloriously unexpected happens then. Out of nowhere, the chimes turn to playing carols, sweet and clear like a Christmas carillon… merrily ringing out across the university and lifting my heart to the joy of the season.
I stand, marveling as they chime out one, two, three – four! – songs like one of those grand music boxes with “perforated records” that play when wound… for they have never rung this way before that I can remember. Slowly, the last note fades away, like the radiant sparkles from a fireworks display… and I find myself walking to where they began — up the steps to the large chapel.
Letting myself in the heavy doors quietly, I’m surprised to hear choral voices rising from the main sanctuary. Like Nicholas, in Paul McCusker’s novel (see MAJESTY – Part One), I’m captured by the hauntingly beautiful voices cascading around me. I too slip softly to a pew, close my eyes to let the beauty flow over me. Apparently practicing for an upcoming performance, the group is also singing in Latin… but it is the glory of the music and voice – more than words – that reaches into my soul with healing joy, like birds released, soaring and swooping on the nearby sea air. The tinge of sadness and months of overwhelming work seem to seep out of me as I listen, leaving… peace. My eyes blur, misty from this music majesty…
The singing stops. The director – Salamunovich, I think I hear someone call him — shouts out his arrangements, changes the order of a few people, and inspires the group to some good-natured grumbles. Then on to even greater melding of sound, they begin again…and again…
For an hour, I sit in awe of how I’ve come upon this free concert, so refreshing to my heart, like a royal audience of one. And of how — sometimes I know just what the Psalmist means when he says “He leads and directs my paths.”
My step is light as I return to my dorm. Suddenly, I am in a full-to-overflowing mood for Christmas, our family tree, baking cookies… and, woohoo! Six weeks off between semesters!
12/2013: A friend emailed me these two beauteous links this Christmas… They remind me so much of this memory I wrote about here, the beauty of the church and the glory of the music I “happened” upon that day… Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KvrbYZB2vY (Morten Laurisden)
* clip art provided by http://www.christmas-clipart.com/free