Thursday, January 3, 2008

Comfort and Joy

Christmas is almost over, so I thought I’d put up at least one more post about it here on the tenth day... before celebrating my brother’s 20th birthday, working a late night as a barista/bar-tender, running out of town to visit two sets of old friends, rushing back to pull my last barsta/bar-tender shift of the break, drinking a celebratory beer with a dear friend, having lunch with three policemen… all before classes start on Wednesday.

That was a confession; I’m writing to talk about rest. Just like my dad once said of driving the day I totaled my second car, it seems that of my many talents resting is not one of them.

Last year, while I was observing Advent in a communal home that was part of the New Monasticism, one of my housemates pointed out to me a comma I had never noticed in a song. Like any good English major, I have occasionally had my holiday seasons transformed by small grammatical points, and this comma was one of those. It has become one of my favorite commas in literature.

My housemate pointed out to me the comma in the song “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” I had always assumed the song was a greeting addressed to “merry gentlemen,” and thus I had never noticed the exhortation and blessing in the first line. “Rest ye merry,” the song exhorts us; Christmas brings tidings of both comfort (rest) and joy (merry).

Rarely do I grow into that exhortation and blessing. I greet the news of Christ’s coming like a task-list, either to fix the world or myself. I greet his perfection with despair at my shortcomings. I forget the angel’s oft-repeated exhortation to “Fear not.”

God rest ye merry, my friends. Maybe next year I will too…

1 comment:

Clifford said...

Commas are great and they are grating. I need to learn the proper rules for them. Well, to perhaps take this to a more private means of communication, if you're willing, look me up under Kat's Facebook friends and friend me. I would like to talk with you, if I may.