Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Reclamation


Reclamation

Perry Como taught me Latin when I was just a child.  In case you don’t remember, or never knew of him, Mr. Como was what used to be called a “crooner”, a term for a silky-voiced singer.  I can still see the cover of his Christmas album in my mind’s eye, his friendly face encircled by a wreath of holly.  He was my parents’ favourite, and that record played continuously at our house during the festive season when I was little.  On it, he sang the Latin carol, Adeste Fidelis, and singing along at the top of my voice I learned every word flawlessly, though I hadn’t a clue what I was singing.  It was years before I knew the words were identical to the hymn, O Come All Ye Faithful.  I was startled to find out that was what I’d been singing all along, albeit in indecipherable Latin.

A lot of words have taken on new meaning for me this year.  Words that, although familiar, had never caught fire in my soul until the match of circumstance set them ablaze.  For years I knew C. S. Lewis had written, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”  I had always found that to be an interesting observation, but it didn’t burn with empirical understanding until Edward left me so suddenly in August, never to return.  

As a schoolgirl I learned about the rise of fascism, reading the warnings of those who lived through the horrors of the Second World War as though reading of other worlds.  I heard the stories from my parents, whose patriotism was planted in cleaner soil than that which we walk upon today.  I read Orwell… “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  I read Sinclair Lewis…. “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”  Those words were merely part of history class, with no contemporary meaning for me.  They might as well have been written in Latin.  Or so I thought. Today, after a weekend when my government  instructed the Centers for Disease Control to immediately cease using the words, “diversity”, “vunerable”, “science-based”, “fact-based”, etc, these quotes and passages so long ago learned are no longer merely smoldering in the pages of history, but have caught fire to block our path to any sort of normalcy.  

I have been told by those lucky enough to be in the audience that Bruce Springsteen is closing his remarkable show on Broadway with a reading of The Lord’s Prayer.  People have been somewhat astonished by their own reactions, which have often been surprisingly emotional.  Words that are so familiar they are almost quotidian, glow with new meaning and resonance as he says them.  “Give us this day our daily bread”.  “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Like Mr. Springsteen, these days I am on an expedition of sorts, to ferret out and reclaim the words I thought I knew.  No longer do I trust others to interpret for me.  I feel, like Walt Whitman, who so sagaciously told us to, “Re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul.”  In doing this, like a sculptor, I am beginning to uncover what is lasting, true and beautiful.  What is worth living for.  

Last week on a bitterly cold and snowy night, I stood outside the National Portrait Gallery in London and listened as members of the choir of St. Martin’s in the Fields across the street came out to stand on the steps and sing.  With traffic noise all around them, with throngs of bundled-up shoppers jostling for space on the crowded pavements, they sang, 
“Angels we have heard on high,
 Sweetly singing o’er the plains, 
And the mountains in reply, 
Echoing their joyful strains:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo.

This Christmas season, it is my prayer, for myself as well as for my readers, that these words take on new meaning in our hearts even as they are illuminated by the harsh glow of what we have faced this year and what we may yet face in the coming one.  May we hold fast to the words that live.  May we reclaim the words we thought we knew and make them truly our own.  And may they give us the courage to cast off fear and complacency so that we can stand with others for whom truth, compassion and love are the only things that matter.

Happy Holidays to you All.
xx

23 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas To you and yours! πŸ’–πŸŽ„πŸ’–

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  2. Thank you for this. How lucky am I to share life with someone so full of grace?

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  3. My father loved listening to Perry Como
    I have my dad's albums.

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  4. Once again I wrte to say thank you. Profound and moving.

    From a reader in Tiburon, CA

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  5. Your writing always inspires us, Pamela. Merry Christmas from the Rileys!

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  6. your beloved songwriter has said it here for all of us.
    actually you both are full of grace. thank you for sharing your lives with us. ♥

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  7. I can add nothing to your shining words but "thank you" with all my heart. Merry Christmas, Pamela to you, The Songwriter, and Apple and beautiful Edward who lives in your heart.

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  8. Once again you have put my thoughts to paper. I too am struggling with so many things as this year comes to a close. I lost my beloved Maxey just weeks after you lost Edward. It has taken everything in my power to muster up a "festive" attitude and outlook. The world is a mess, our country is a mess and my best friend is no longer here to comfort me. I pray for all of us in the coming year. Merry Christmas Pamela...God Bless us Everyone!

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  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Happy Holidays and Peace to you, as well.

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  10. One of your best! Thanks for all you do, and for speaking the truth in such a powerful way. A merry Christmas and happy new year to you and Pat.

    Michael Henderson

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  11. IN 2018, I pray we will preach all too live for TRUTH, BEAUTY, FREEDOM and LOVE. To seek out the TRUTH, to find BEAUTY in each day we encounter in Life, the FREEDOM to Love who we wish, and the knowledge that the greatest thing you’ll ever do is to LOVE and be Loved in return.

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  12. Thank you Pamela. Your words always resonate with me. Merry Christmas and I hope that 2018 will bring some indication that all is indeed not lost (as I am confident it isn't) and the strength to speak out and stand for what we truly believe in.

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  13. Beautifully said. I always look forward to reading your posts and seeing you on Instagram. Wishing you a very happy festive season. Anny x (dreaminginstitches)

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  14. Thank you, Pamela. It's my prayer that this climate was sent to gather those of us together in stronger bonds of hope, truth and love for our fellow man. To bring a new day of peace and understanding to all of us that the world has yet to see could be our goal. It can only happen one heart at a time.✌️and ❤️ to you all!

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  15. Thank you, Pamela. This was as beautiful in words as you are in your heart and soul. I wish you the happiest of holiday wishes. Penny

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  16. Beautifully written Pamela. As I face my first Christmas without my beloved farmer - thank you.

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  17. Thank you .It is always a pleasure to read your beautiful words.

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  18. You always manage to provide a great perspective on things that seem beyond understanding. I treasure your posts and often re-read them to find some hope that this sad time in our history will pass.
    Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and the Songwriter.
    xo,
    Karen

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  19. Thank you, as always, for your insight, your poetic words, and your gentle spirit.

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  20. As everyone here has said: thank you. Yes, Virginia, there is Sanity in the world. Merry Christmas. Mary

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  21. Thank you for sharing your words, adventures, and heart with all of us. We proudly have Edward’s books displayed among our Christmas decor. Merry Christmas to you, The Song Writer, and Apple.

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  22. Thanks for this beautifully expressed post. But please tell me this is not true about the ban on use of 'diversity, 'science-based' etc. Please.
    Hoping against hope for a better world in 2018.
    All the best, Gail.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!