Light and shadow and the cat

December 13, 2012

So 12.12.12. came and went and the world didn’t end. No, the planet didn’t blow up, give up, or pack up its things and say, That’s All Folks!

In Africa, our evening included our annual community carol sing.

Liz sang Silent Night solo, Jon handed out candles when he wasn’t playing with the light, and several other children helped take gentle control of the outdoor event for a few dozen friends and staff from the university.

I found it interesting to hear the Ugandans share how their childhood memories of Christmas revolved around meat, that Christmas was the one day when they knew they’d have plenty of it. This is a lot more modest than a Canadian child’s memories of, snow, for one, and, of course, the main event, the gifts.

But it was the carols themselves, so full of light and shadow, heaven and earth, God and humanity intertwined so mysteriously and tightly that transcended these sorts of cultural differences.

It was the carols that brought us together as a gaggle of sinful voices, but singers nonetheless, with light in our hands flickering over words that said, more than anything, yes, this is mystery and beauty too.

Then, finally, of all things, it was the cat who confirmed to me that all was well despite …

The night before, someone had cut through a screen and stolen our electric piano from a little room in the back of our house, a small, safe place that we simply call the music room because it’s where the children learn music.

Of course we were all rattled. “Daddy, what if the thief is still outside?” The stolen piano was to have even been used for the carol sing in just hours.

But another piano was lent to us, and the event went on, and the children took over in the best of ways. And then Silent Night and the flickering candles … and, yes, then the cat came and laid at my feet.

Some of you know that our cat is a wandering character with a history, appreciated at times but also a source of irritation, a sort of passive-aggressive member of our family who, as you might imagine, doesn’t like to be touched for long.

But Liz tapped me on the knee and pointed down, and there was the cat laying contently on top of some Christmas music sheets, soaking it all in. And it let us stroke it for as long as we wanted. And the music continued.

And, no, the world did not end. It just got brighter.

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December 13, 2012 • Posted in
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