Daily Connector | Silent Night in a Plague Year | Sarah Werner

I almost forgot to turn it on
6:28 on Christmas Eve and I was busy
washing dishes from dinner
She asked, ‘what about your church service?’
And I started, and wiped my hands on the dish towel
not wanting to be late.

On the screen a room full of boxes
all of my friends and acquaintances
in miniature, just like every Sunday for
what feels like weary years.

children dressed up as Mary and Joseph and
Angels and Wise Men and Women
then dogs and babies dressed up like Sheep.
And footage from Christmas plays past,
children we haven’t seen in almost a year
looking so small and people crowded
so close together that I feel the startle of
danger that this year has implanted in us.

Some prayers and readings and
hymns recorded from past years
when the world felt less perilous,
full of angst and possibility.

Then, the last song.
Silent Night
no words on the screen
just the matrix of framed familiar faces
lit by the flame of a single candle
singing along to our own voices recorded
last year when we were so full of angst and possibility.

And in that moment I feel a wrench in my heart
unexpectedly, and all off the vacuous space
between us shrinks to nothing.
We are all there, in the enveloping dark of the sanctuary
shoulder to shoulder, singing in
the birth of new life.

After, by the melody of a single clarinet
the distance snaps back into place.
I am in my living room
in my quiet house surrounded by snow,
having come so close to missing
this sacred moment of hope and warmth
distracted by the dishes and my ordinary dread,
a warm light shining into the coldest night of the year.