Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guide You Safely Through the Wild

I'm missing my Mom so much this Christmas; more than I did last year when her death was so new. Funny how the deep longing for her presence is so much more acute this holiday season. My eyes well up quickly, the emotions just below the surface ready to bubble up at any moment.

Listening to Mom's Christmas choir tapes provides a sure-fire on switch for me to let loose the sadness inside me. The other night we listened to a  recording of  her choir and this piece in particular brought me back to my childhood Christmases. I've never paid attention to the words until now.  This is the Shepherd's Farewell by French composer Hector Berlioz from the mid 19th century. I find it fascinating to learn more about things I took for granted in my young life. Decades later this piece haunts me but in a good way. The lyrics of this piece describe the prayer of the shepherds as they bid goodbye to the Holy family escaping into Egypt. (Matthew 2: 13)

This piece IS my mother set to music. She could have written these words, particularly the last two lines: "God go with you, God protect you....(and most of all) guide you safely through the wild". She was the consummate worrier and the one who prayed for our safety constantly. The wild, the perfect metaphor for all the dangers out there,  represents all she ever feared in a single word. I know this. I am her daughter and much the same.

L'enfance du Christ
Thou must leave thy lowly dwelling,
The humble crib, the stable bare.
Babe, all mortal babes excelling,
Content our earthly lot to share.
Loving father, loving mother,
Shelter thee with tender care
Blessed Jesus, we implore thee
With humble hearts and holy fear,
In that land that lies before thee,
Forget not us who linger here.
May the shepherd's lowly calling
Ever to thy heart be dear. 
Blessed are ye beyond all measure,
Thou loving father, mother mild;
Guard thee well thy heavenly treasure,
The Prince of peace, the holy child.
God go with you, God protect you,
Guide you safely through the wild.

I miss you, Mom. Guide you safely through the wild.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us, Kate. It is funny how our sentiments about our mother's are much the same. Christmas was always my mother's season. She, too, was a musician and director of cantata's and choirs. It was the story and celebration of the Christ child, but also a special magical time for us as children and as a family. My parents made Christmas day so special for us--always lots of surprises, laughter-traditions. So Christmas is always bittersweet for me. In the years after her death, I always felt melancholy and sad listening, seeing, feeling the Christmas songs, the lights, luminaries, everything about this time of year brought back memories of my mother and that she was absent. Now i'm able to hear something and think, "Mother would love that!" or "Mom would never have done it that way!" Now, I have reached a point where all of these things give me sweet memories of childhood and watching her during this season. She so loved Christmas even though it meant a lot of work and effort on her part. This was a magical time of year! It is a special time of reflection and makes me feel close to her.


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