Reflection: December 10 – ADVENT 2

Published on Dec 13th, 2017 by Rev. David Boyd | 0

Have you had thoughts like, “Just when it seems we’re getting somewhere… just when it seems I’ve had a little glimpse of peace, something happens and it all goes out the window.” I talked about that with a friend a few days ago; I said that it feels something like a merry-go-round sometimes. But he said something that struck me, something I’ve thought about before, something that is dear to a Celtic spiritual path; he said, “life is more like a spiral than a merry-go-round. We do go around, but we’re not at the same places on a circle; we are in a spiral: we learn, we live peace and hope, and that makes a difference to our own lives and the life of the world, and so the spirals get larger, accounting for our experiences in life.” It was a good reminder from my friend! Not a merry-go-round, but a spiral of growing light, peace and love!

It’s like the song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Did you hear the background to this Christmas song on CBC the other day? We write poetry in the face of injustice and a lack of peace. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say, “Do You Hear What I Hear? is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of the Christmas holiday. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists… Regney was inspired to write the lyrics “Said the night wind to the little lamb, ‘Do you see what I see?'” and “Pray for peace, people everywhere” after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City. Shayne stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. ‘Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.’” 1

Regny’s an interesting person; he’s French and was in France during WW 2. Against Regny’s will, he was drafted into the German army, but he became a member of the French Underground and passed intelligence to the Allies. After one particular incident, Regny deserted and lived among the French Underground until the end of the war. He ended up in Manhattan and wrote jingles as well as serious works. While the Cuban Missile crisis was happening, Regny would walk around New York and see people not smiling; there was no joy as everyone anticipated war. Regny himself was brought to thinking about his own experiences from WW 2. From a Franciscan Website, Regny said, “’En route to my home, I saw two mothers with their babies in strollers. The little angels were looking at each other and smiling. All of a sudden, my mood was extraordinary.’ A glimpse of these babies filled Noel Regney’s heart with poetry. The little ones reminded him of newborn lambs. Thus, the song begins, ‘Said the night wind to the little lamb….’ As soon as Noel arrived home, he jotted down the lyrics. Then he asked Gloria to write the music to accompany his words. “While walking down the street in New York, my mother heard trumpets playing the melody in her head,” explains Gabrielle Regney [their daughter].” And of course, the line is so poignant, “Pray for peace, people everywhere.”

In some ways, this song had the same effect as Isaiah’s prophecy or John the Baptist’s invitation to the Jordan River, “God will make a way. Peace will find a way if we will but live it.” The Jewish people, captured by the Babylonians, were devastated, but Isaiah proclaimed that God would provide a way back for them. God would level the mountains. With God all things are possible. John echoed these words of Isaiah’s: God will help us find a way, a new way in the midst of the threat from the Roman might. And for us today, God will help us find a way through this new threat of war in the Middle East because of the sheer willful narcissism and stupidity of a certain leader. “Pray for peace, people everywhere!”

It’s a fine balance, isn’t it, this finding peace. We have to find the peace to deal with our own challenges as well as be a people of peace, joining with others, to pray and work for peace. As I get older, I feel that peace has to be grounded in prayer. We CAN change the world through prayer, prayer that is active and engaged, prayer that is intentional and heart-felt. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what happens in the physical universe when we pray. The Chinese, Yogis and 1st Nations people have known something of this for 1000’s of years. The Celts and other ancient peoples know something of this.

So, we keep up our meditation/prayer practices and send our prayers out into the universe, into God’s heart from which they are delivered anew into the world. By gathering together like we are today, and praying together, we find the courage to face our own inner turmoil; this courage helps us participate in the work to create peace in the world. So, in a prayerful, hopeful and thoughtful way, the spirals of hope and peace expands; let us meditate as we listen to the song, “Do you hear what I hear?” With the context, the lyrics take on a much larger importance and relevance.

Peace!

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[1] See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_You_Hear_What_I_Hear%3F.

[2] See https://www.franciscanmedia.org/do-you-hear-what-i-hear-the-story-behind-the-song/.

 
 

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