A smaller group of us, (hubby included),
were singing carols at a home for the elderly.
As we stood in the over-heated lounge facing the residents,
as always in these places there was the mix
of those alert enough to take song booklets
and sing with us,
and those who merely sat.
Some of the folks whose home we were invading
eyed us curiously, uncertain why we were there;
while others remained seemingly oblivious that we were there at all,
or after a cursory glance seemed to dismiss us altogether.
Then as we sang the change began to happen.
Gradually here and there wrinkled lips curved in smiles.
Then those same lips shaped themselves around
the old familiar words,
and even if no sound ensued,
the magic of memory was at work.
Only they know how far back those old words and melodies carried them.
You will think me fanciful if I say
that in those moments it was possible to glimpse again
the hidden child,
who once learned these words at a time when however hard their lives,
some token of finer things visited them fleetingly.
The sweet knowledge of the Christ child,
and the mystery of His birth,
and the few unfamiliar goodies that were rarer then than now.
I do know that the child in us never dies,
and that even though the details of time and place may elude us,
music can touch and open some deep well
of remembered feeling within us.
Before we filed out, leaving them once again in their lounge,
where every seat faced the television,
and we were humbled by the smiles,
and whispered assurances us that,
"That was lovely!"
Touching each frail hand in goodbye as we went,
our singing this time left us with a quieter, more thoughtful,
and mixed joy.