Saturday, December 15, 2012


By now, I'm sure you've heard of the great sadness in Connecticut.  I had heard a flickering of the news in the morning, but didn't realize the extent of the tragedy.

  Battling a sore throat, I hosted a "DJ hour" at the local nursing home, playing and introducing holiday classics to the old folks.  After much great music and joy shared, I was tiredly lugging the speakers onto the elevator after the show.  I heard the nursing staff talking about it.  "Twenty kids."  "Twenty kids?"  I asked, a sickening feeling creeping up.  Last I had heard, it was just the shooter.  Unfortunately, the rumors were right this time.

  It had been an unusually busy week, and I guess I had run too hard, because there I was, nursing a cold on a Friday evening, AND - there wasn't a Christmas tree up.  I resolved to clean the house and put up the tree.

  If you think I'm an energetic person outwardly, you should just see my mind.  The evening was no exception, with plenty of pondering and thinking on the massacre.

  To top it all off, it's the holiday season.  It always brings it's own set of thoughts and feelings with it.  There's the fond memories of Christmas past, the yearning for a simpler time when Santa brought such joy.  The memory of my Grandfather's death a few days before Christmas, the reminder of my cousin who died by her own hand, friends who have died, friends who are dying, and much darkness.  There's the stress of the season, and the kindness of strangers, the magic for the children, and the cold reality of being an adult.  I've discovered the joy of giving, and have come to appreciate the thoughtfulness of gestures of giving.  To top it all off, here's almost thirty people dead at a madman's hand a few days before Christmas, and an indelible stain left on multitudes.  I pictured the mothers finding the carefully wrapped presents for their dead children in the closet, the "Santa staging area", and wondered what they must be feeling.  I pictured my own mother holding such a present and crying.  I wish there was something I could do.

  I avoid talking about my faith when possible, as I have friends and colleagues who I respect highly and who's views are different from mine.  However, it's fairly obvious that I'm very, very agnostic.  As the years have gone by, I've gotten more so, and the holiday season is an interesting one for me.

  I decided last year that since I'm about as Jewish as I am Christian, I'd light a menorah this year in addition to decorating a Christmas tree.  So there I was, in my living room, putting up the tree as the menorah blazed on the mantelpiece.  The Choir of King's College sang softly in the background as I thought about the kids, Grandpa, Kyleen, and life.  There is something so haunting and holy about a congregation of human voices, especially on a day of such sadness.

  I was all alone, it was dark outside, and it seemed like I was surrounded by echos and light and darkness.  Easy answers had gone the way of Santa and the sun for the day, replaced by the darkness of night and grief.

  The thought knocked gently at the front door of my mind.

Perhaps all we can do is put up the Christmas tree and light the menorah.  

 If life is choices, will I choose to shine light into the darkness?    

Keep the fire burning, friends.  Keep it burning with your kindness, your howling wind of intentional music, your art, your compassion.  Light up the world with a guitar, or a violin, or a menorah.  Will we be able to look out into the darkness, and like the glimmer of a neighbor's Christmas lights, see the fires of light in the darkness?

Life is choices...

- Josh  



Patricia Michael Melnice said...

Peace to you Josh.
Your comments strike a beautiful chord with me. It's true . . . we all have to shine our light a little brighter to make up for the darkness we all feel today. Lighting my candles over here and sending out some love and hope.
Love to you, Friend!

The Wiff said...

Ditto...our Menorah sits next to our Nativity set, next to our Xmas Tree....PEACE to ALL on Earth is all we can wish!

Merry ME said...

Maybe this comment should remain offline- I don't want to start a religious debate after your beautiful post. But I do want you to know what I believe. I trust deep in my bones, that the God of Agnostics, in whatever shape or form (S)He takes, - a menorah's candle, a treetop angel, a flashlight in a darkened room, or the heart of one that gives joyfully of himself so old people can sing Christmas carols blesses you and surrounds you with love.

Zenchick said...

You are your mother's son....and that is a wonderful thing :-)

Nici said...

You summed up a lot of what has been rattling around inside my mind. This has come at me from so many angles: as a Connecticut resident from a neighboring town, a mother of three boys...and parent to a son who is bipolar. Staying close to light and music has been my little liferaft in such a rough sea of "processing" knowledge and feelings that seem rootless and endless. Writings like yours are candles, floating in the dark, keeping me company. Thank you.

buckeye girl said...

Beautiful and powerful, Josh. The light can only come from us and the choice is always ours. The light shines from you each and every day.
Sending you lots of love!