Magic and Music and the Sacrifice of Christmas
Before I started working on this little thing called a novel, I was a church musician. From choral oratorios to operettas to Native American chants to plainsong to black gospel to Contemporary Christian, I sang it. At one point I was spending more than 20 hours a week singing, serving as both a soloist for a Sunday morning traditional service and the worship leader in a heavily electronic praise band (We used to do a Christian cover of Van Halen's "Jump" that knocked off everyone's socks--and maybe their eardrums, too.)
And every Christmas and Easter I'd do no less than three services (sometimes five). Normally, right about now on Christmas Eve, I'd be well into the first of three candlelight Christmas Eve services, singing hymns and gospel and beautiful pieces of music like this and this .
But for the past three years, I've had a new tradition on Christmas Eve. Yes, I still go to one service. And I still sing happily and heartily from somewhere near the back pews. But I don't sing in choir anymore, or sing solos, because, when I started getting serious about my writing, my music was something I had to give up. It was hard for me to, and some days I still grieve it. And I hope that at some point, I can figure out a way to sneak music (and theatre and art, sigh) back into my life. But for now, the book reigns supreme, and most of my discretionary time is spent writing.
So instead of spending the day getting ready to sing in several services and running around all nervous and excited and dressed in musician-standard black, now I make sure to put in at least four hours on the book on Christmas Eve. I pray before and afterwards, and I allow God to recenter me on my project, my writing, and on His call for my life. And then I go visit people, or sometimes drop by a friend's annual Christmas party, and then end the day by finding a church that's new to me and dropping in to sing. This way there's no pressure, no "where have you been?" or "Hey Kathryn, quick, let's get you a choir robe!" It's strange. It's a little lonely. But it's beautiful. And I'm coming to cherish this quieter, more hermit-like existence, even though it's not what I'm used to. It seems to resonate with the deepest chords of me.
Anything that's important, anything that's worth doing requires sacrifice. Whether that's allowing your voice to be shaped by and blended with others, writing a novel that may never see the light of day but doing it anyway because you know you have to, washing the flies off and feeding a homeless man, or sending your Son to save the world.
Peace. And Merry Christmas!