100 Days of Practice Round 2 Day 71: Praying without words.

A funny thing happened on Solstice...

The Solstice party cancelled, I abandoned my inner Pagan and embraced my inner Capitalist. Instead of adorning the house with greens, I dashed out early on one of those little bits of heaven on Earth: a shopping sprint, all by myself.

A couple hours of wandering and four bags of goods later, I returned home to find Captain Hook in the middle of the playroom, a Kitchen Aid bread hook stuffed up his sleeve. Wendy stood across from him waving her sword. This part of the movie is scary. I returned to the kitchen, where I could safely put away groceries.

A few minutes later, Captain Hook came to the kitchen and unrolled a door-size poster, and asked, "Where did this come from?" On the poster was a piano, a violin, and a flute (and yes, a red rose), and emblazoned in massive letters was this: God gave us music that we might pray without words.

The world stops turning, briefly. Breathe. Exhale.

I don't know where it came from. Captain Hook doesn't know where it came from. We're not the most organized people in the world, but usually we know where things in our house come from.

Still, it arrived just in time. Music has been feeling more like a job than a prayer. Thank you, God of the Lost and Found, for this not-so-subtle reminder. This was one of those moments that if you believe in signs, you might get goosebumps.

About an hour later, two friends arrived to play music. Though we had canceled the party, these two beautiful people, the Goddess Helen of the Moon and St. Brendan the Voyager, have been at the heart of our Solstice celebrations for the last four years and will certainly be so, forever. They still wanted to come at least for the visit and the food. And we couldn't imagine the day without them. They play... um... piano and violin.

I don't believe in signs, but when I showed H. and B. the poster, I got goosebumps. But then again, I believe in signs.

Do you believe?

In what?





Or, just nothing?


Or maybe everything?


You can't believe in both nothing and everything.

I believe in belief. And in nonbelief.


I didn't practice yesterday. There are two times each day that I can practice: before everyone wakes up and after everyone goes to bed. Yesterday, my practice time was interrupted by the arrival of one of the Wise Men, bearing coffee. ("Come in, come in!") My evening time was superceded by a Christmas party, where we heard the Marcus Monteiro Quartet, a fabulous electric John Zorn-ish jazz group out of New Bedford. Alto front man Monteiro is a killer horn player who knows every corner of that horn. I told him so on a break. He said, "Not every corner; the goal posts keep moving." Ah, true musician.

So, I didn't practice, but instead, I honored practice, by watching this young player, in awe, and thinking, "So this is what practice does..."

And on Solstice, I didn't really practice either, but we played a lot, sharing music with family, close friends, and also with neighbors, who came for dinner with their three young children, one of whom was celebrating his eighth birthday on the solstice. May he always remember the birthday that he got to sing, shake sleigh bells, and play African drums to "Frosty the Snowman," "Jingle Bells," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Rudolph" with a full band at the house next door.

That, most certainly, is what music is about. And it is also what the spirit of the season is about.

Where there is music, the spirit is always close by. May we never take it for granted. Music is a prayer without words, a gentle breath from heaven that impels us to say, "I believe."