Every December members from our church go carolling to seniors: "shut-ins" who either live in their own homes or in assisted living facilities. The carollers meet at the church where they divide into groups, are given a list of 4 or 5 stops, then fan out into the community.
Most years I join in and I had this year's date marked in my daytimer well in advance.
But on that particular Wednesday, the afternoon's agenda went off the rails. My Christmas baking project took much longer than anticipated, I couldn't get into the flow for a work proposal, and a couple necessary phone calls all disrupted my rhythm and production.
Maybe you should forget about carolling tonight and get caught up on your work.
I tossed the thought to and fro; decided I needed those hours at home and emailed one of the organizers to express my regrets.
You can't give a small gift of your time to share the music of this season...to share Me?
The pointed question pricked me through. What was I thinking, beyond my own selfishness? I needed to go.
Our group was a Mom and her 9-year-old son, our driver and her friend, and myself. Our hosts were delighted and generous with their thanks and their sweet treats. Two of the ladies, pretty much house-bound with health issues, sang along with their carol request: Silent Night. I think (older) women, especially, have an intrinsic affinity for this simple sacred melody of the first Christmas night. It was my Mom's favourite too. Now, six years since her last Christmas, I couldn't stop the tears from welling up, so aware of the gulf between us and our perspectives of "Son of God, love's pure light."
Almost all of the people we sang for were senior women. They were sitting waiting for us to come and they were sitting when they left. Those in senior homes didn't have baking or decorating or cleaning yet to do that night - with a full agenda planned for the next day too. It's safe to guess that at one point in their life that was so - and that they'd now say, "where did the years go?"
All the carollers met up back at the church for cocoa and cookies and this particular caroller went home to a kitchen spilling over with dirty dishes. No elves or fairies had showed up to sweep through the house with their magic. But a miracle of sorts had materialized.
My sense of peace in spite of a list with too few tasks ticked off. Surprise for how much I'd received in exchange for my small effort. The contentment knowing the priority projects would get done.
Christmas has come, we have celebrated "Christ the Saviour is born." And because of this "....dawn of redeeming grace", I can experience "all is calm, all is bright."