Peace on Earth

“Peace on Earth. Goodwill to all mankind,” the ancient words proclaim.

For me, this season of peace begins with songs and conversations with my neighbors from a distant land. In some ways very different from me, and in many ways the same.

This past week I was privileged to host two singers from South Africa. Their chorus, Bergrivierkoor, was travelling around Boston, our Seacoast, NYC and then on to Belgium. This was their time to sing with our chorus. It was a short two day visit with weather that was too miserable to show them any of the beauty of a New England winter. My two new friends were very quiet, likely overwhelmed and exhausted from travel and most definitely cold. They told me a bit about their homeland, their jobs, families, a regular school day for kids, and a typical choir rehearsal. These small moments felt important in bringing stranger to neighbor to friend.

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And then we sang together, the exuberant sound of togetherness. We sang a familiar song, “We are Marching in the Light of God,” but in Afrikaans, our visitors’ native language. I looked full in the face of the singer next to me, eyes on her mouth, and ears tuned to the unfamiliar gutteral sound. She smiled and sang and taught me, then started dancing with me. There was too much joy to be contained in the heady space of learning. We moved together.

The next evening our choir listened to our new friends sing. There was, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in Latin, English, and Afrikaans. There was the soloist with a rich vocal range who sang the purpose of their visit, “I Want to Know You.”  We joined them at the end, co-mingled and a little crowded yet with room for everyone. Together we sang a song of peace from our repertoire that we’ve sung with choirs from Cuba, Northern Ireland, and Croatia:

This is my song, O God of all the nations
A song of peace, for lands afar & mine
This is my home, the country where my heart is
Heare are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine

We sang our very upbeat new song in Afrikaans, together dancing and enjoying. And then came a moment that can’t quite be described because it was an incredible experience. The South African choir sang their national anthem, surrounding us and between us, while we just listened standing closely with them. It’s a song sung in several languages that is a hybrid of a church hymn, song of political protest and poetry. It’s old and new at the same time. Peace on earth, indeed.

There was more singing. A reception with food and bursts of spontaneous song. There was the quiet humming to the radio with my new friends on the drive home.

We said goodbye the next morning on another cold, dreary New England day. There were selfies, and hugs, and thank-yous. There was this crazy moment when I forgot that snow can be a big deal. My friend, travelling with her brother, posed for their first snowball fight, because of course they hadn’t seen snow before. Yes please, more joy to the world.

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If this is the season of hope, light, joy, peace then let it be filled with song, and with quiet, with being seen and with bringing those far away just a little closer somehow.

Food for Thought

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Food for Thought – December 15, 2014 Edition

Know When to Fold Them:

I’m proud to say that NIH helped to support the highly creative team of researchers that, over the course of the past five years, have mapped with unprecedented detail and precision how the human genome folds inside the cell’s nucleus. Among the many things they’ve learned is that, in much the same way that origami artists can craft a vast array of paper creatures using two simple folds, the genome is able to work its biological magic with just a few basic folds.

 

Congress Blocks Fed from Targeting Medical Marijuana, Hemp Cultivation

Included in the federal spending bill released late Tuesday are amendments that prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to go after state medical marijuana operations and that block the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere in state-legal industrial hemp research.

Aidan discovers a tasty gain to independent mobility in this video:

Google is Hunting for an Autism Gene

Google is on a mission to pinpoint the genetic causes of autism. The company is using its cloud-based genome database, Google Genomics, to sequence genomes from 10,000 people on the autism spectrum, along with their family members. The plan is to host and index the genomes so that researchers can look for the genetic origins of the developmental disorder.

 

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And what have you been reading or writing?

 

Photo Dump

If I told you that next week I will tell you the wonderfulness that kept me busy this week, will you just accept this photo dump as a post for now?

Also, if you don’t subscribe to this blog yet, you’ll want to. Just put your email over yonder on the right where it says Follow This Blog. Each post will be hand delivered to your email by the kindly old mailman in your computer. Also, and even better, you’ll be the first to know about some big changes happening in these parts.

They are sort of related to this dress.

With no further ado – my randomness:

I don’t really want to tell you how this ended

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I’ve never understood why people call pumpkin pie a dessert when clearly it’s a breakfast food

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Not sure what to say here other than my boys are ridiculous and adorable

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This is Liam’s Cross Country top. I not only got in big trouble for wearing it but he called me pretentious too, “worse than the honor student bumper stickers, mom.” IMG_2556

And next week I’ll lell you about this

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