From the De La Salle Blackfeet School in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation, our community partner Brother Dale Mooney sends Christmas greetings, with a reference to the comfort we seek in times of trouble. In a community suffering so many losses in 2020, he offers a “song to sing in our hearts.”
In these anxious and tumultuous days, we have a longing – a longing for that “peaceful song” that artists have brought us time and time again. How can we fashion a Christmas that’s safe, uplifting and powerful so as to bring us joy, comfort and a wholesome sense of belonging? Many of us have used this time of year to share, to reach out to others, to lighten the burden of others and to spend some time with those who are lonely. Yes, it definitely includes the delight of parents and grandparents sparking the light in children’s eyes as packages are unwrapped, but it also brings a yearning to be present in the lives of others. The first is a fleeting moment. The other can have long-lasting impact.
In so many cultures, we find the need to bring light into the darkness of the winter months. For those of us on the reservation who celebrate the birth of the Savior, born in an unsuspecting messianic environment: a stable, a cave, a hovel. For many of us, there is at least a limited understanding of Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa and Our Lady of Guadalupe. These are festivals that remind us of the struggle, but also bring us to the light – the “coming of spring.” We await the vaccine, but we wait with each other, if only virtually. We tweet, we message, we email, we blog, we call, we Zoom, we write, and we stay connected.
As a hymn, the American folksong, “How Can I Keep From Singing” by Robert Lowry, and based on Psalm 145, leads us to comfort in times of trouble. We too can join with song in our hearts… “Above Earth’s lamentation, I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn… through all the tumult and the strife… it finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”
What song will you be singing on Christmas? May it be one of joy, peace and joining with others in whatever way possible.