Friday, December 20, 2013

Singing Out the Year

For those following the thread, our play last night—The Odyssey— was a resounding success. With an adult live audience, the kids brought everything up a notch and people left uplifted. But no time to bask—there were more special moments ahead. This morning was the old school tradition of ice skating, a chance to hold a kid’s hand for a couple of loops around the ice and congratulate them on the play or reach out to them to steady our wobbly legs or for us to steady their’s. The ritual Hokey Pokey on ice and then back to school for 8th grade performances of St. George and the Dragon, brought to life with great verve, humor and new twists and turns.

Then switch the rugs, light the candles and in come 190 children from 1st through 8th grade to close out a glorious Fall with joyful song. With Wrong Words Day behind them, their voices were pure and their seriousness palpable. Kids love to be goofy and jivey and boisterous beyond adult tolerance, but they also can appreciate— and love and need— a silence charged with a luminous quiet and tenderness. And so with a Frosty here and a Winter Wonderland there to lighten the mix, we sang in the midnight clear of a silent night to the angels who were hearing us on high. And a glorious sound it was.

I accompanied on the piano and believe me, I tried my best to sing, but my body was racked with quiet sobs. To hear children sing beautiful music with such sincerity and see their shining ieyes and beautiful faces— well, it’s enough to melt the most hardened heart. And mine is perpetually on the soft side anyway.

So at the end when I tried to say some final words, I couldn’t. The kids heard the catch in my voice and saw the glistening tear forming as I tried to thank them for a beautiful ending to a beautiful Fall together. I squeaked something out and then made my ritual joke—“See you next year!” and dismissed them. Three first graders came over and patted me on the back to comfort me. The hearts of children are sometimes a wonder to behold.

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