Well, we made it. As the dawn started to creep into the morning sky, I realized we had made it through the longest night of the year. From now on, the sun will come up a little earlier and go down a little later each day. We’re tilting back toward the sun. Every day gets longer until June, when summer is in full swing and the Angels are in first place.
But, oh, last night! Did you miss last night? We’re working on getting a recording of our zoom “The Longest Night” meeting ready for you. It was unique and inspiring.
Human and holy, is the best way I can describe it. Bob Bennett’s gentle nature that encompasses pain, but doesn’t let it win, was evident throughout.
I’ve never been in a meeting before that was designed to embrace grief, sadness, loneliness., depression, and loss, but it turned out incredibly well. We need to do this more often. When so much of Christmas is putting your best foot forward, trying to hide years of dysfunction and disappointment behind smiling, mass produced personal letters, it’s refreshing to hear Bob sing about “Christmas, the cynic, and me” and laugh through his “Codependent Love.” But then you feel the pain of losing a loved one in “You Went Ahead,” It’s not polite to cut in line / But I can let it go this time / The harder thing I have to do / Is to say goodbye / And not let go of you.
And then there was the very tender “Worship from the Wilderness,” Maybe there’s no going back again / To a simpler time, at an old address / Oh God, can you hear my still, small voice / My worship from the wilderness.
Each one of these songs was followed by an unspoken identification with the sentiment being expressed. There were some stories told, but mostly it was the music unlocking life. Less words, more feeling. And we all felt it together, like when Lee Davis brought out her autoharp and sang a beautiful song she wrote last Christmas about loneliness and isolation. At the end, there was the confirmation that whatever was happening, we were all being held by the “Hand of Kindness” — God’s grace — In this crucible of cause and effect / I walk the wire without a net / And I wonder if I’ll ever fall too far / But that day has not happened yet, because there’s a hand of kindness holding onto us.
I’m so thankful for the longest day of the year that made this evening possible and want to encourage you all to not gloss over or bury the not-so-merry stuff in lots of wrapping and tinsel. There is something to be found in facing into the sadness. When sorrow and pain cut deep, there is always something deeper to experience through an encounter with God’s grace, as the title of one of Bob’s albums says so well, “Joy Deep As Sorrow.”
Just remember, too, we’re tilting back toward the sun!