With Christmas Fest quickly approaching, it can be difficult for those of us involved to remain in high spirits. This may be my first year performing, but I see my friends who have done this before slipping into autopilot. It’s crunch time for our classes, and we still must make time for hours upon hours of rehearsal. How can we be expected to stay excited for the festivity to come when we have a three hour rehearsal and a paper to write? It may be worth reflecting on what Christmas Fest means to each of us. For me, it’s a time of renewal, forgiveness and forging new paths toward the realization of what’s truly important in life.
Rewind one year. I’m a first year, and I’m asked to volunteer as an usher for Christmas Fest. I know absolutely nothing about Christmas Fest. I know tickets are sold out, but I want to see it and this is a way to do so for free. So I sign up to usher for all four performances. Let me be as blunt as I possibly can: when I heard the first notes of “Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain,” I knew that this was something special. This led me to my first realization: choir was something I really missed having in my life, and I needed to get back to it somehow. Auditioning for Cantorei at the end of my first year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
On the third night of Fest last year, something extraordinarily difficult happened to me. I felt confused and alone, and I didn’t know how to react. But I still had to go usher one more Christmas Fest performance. And when I sat down to listen to the rest of the show, the lyrics began to mean something more to me. One lyric in particular stands out: “God’s truth and justice sets everybody free.” I am the kind of person that is easily affected by beauty. I cry easily at beautiful music, I feel everything in high definition. And that led me to my second realization of what was important to me: faith. I was never a religious person, but when I needed to start working through what had happened to me on the night of December 3rd, I found myself turning to prayer of all places. And I think that I have become a happier person for it.
At first the lyric “God’s truth and justice sets everybody free” was something that I was just applying to myself. Through God, I would finally be set free from what had happened to me. But I soon realized that healing has a strong component of forgiveness and mercy, and in order to truly heal, I needed to work towards forgiving. I learned this truth: you cannot set yourself free until you have set others free. Another lyric stands out to me from last year’s Christmas Fest: “Light Dawns, Hope Blooms.” It may seem unbelievable that I am so excited about Fest last year, given the traumatic event that happened to me. But I look at the weekend to come and feel nothing but warmth and joy. To me, “Light Dawns, Hope Blooms” means that even when you’re going through the darkest night, there will always be light, and there will always be hope.
That brings me back to this year. Are you excited for Christmas Fest? What does Christmas Fest mean to you? As I reflect on these questions, I think about Fest’s title this year: “Ris’n With Healing On His Wings.” Maybe there’s something you are trying to heal from; I know that I still am. I hope that Christmas Fest this year brings you all the healing, grace and wonder that you need. Peace and blessings. Merry Christmas.