Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Coventry Carol

A friend just reminded me of The Coventry Carol which has been one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music for as long as I can remember.  There are a million versions of it online, here's a lovely one by Collegium Vocale. It is about the slaughter of the Innocents, when Herod killed all of the young baby boys to try to get to the Messiah, whose existence threatened Herod's power.

 I'm finding that becoming a parent has tainted even my favorite Christmas carols.  I used to listen, have a good shudder about how evil people can be, then enjoy the music, as haunting as it is.  I can't do that anymore.  Just like when I'm watching the news or seeing a gripping episode of CSI, every child could be my child.  That little boy that Herod killed could have been my little boy, I could be that mother mourning "this poor young thing for whom we do sing".

I am reminded, since I'm a part of a large community of faith, that God loves children, that God heals broken hearts, that God cries with each crying child (and parent).  It is this reminder that makes me able to watch the news (I don't watch fictional TV that makes victims of children) and listen to The Coventry Carol.  I am also very aware of being a part of a community that walks the fine line between not swimming in the sorrows of the past and not letting our loved ones be forgotten.  We celebrate those Innocents on our liturgical calendar and in The Coventry Carol, powerful reminders of the immeasurable cost when power goes unchecked.

Still, as a mother, I wish we didn't have need of those kinds of reminders of God's ultimate goodness because I wish we didn't have to be faced with this kind of violence, or any kind of violence that preys on the minds and bodies of the most vulnerable among us.  I know that God knows what it feels like to lose a child, especially to violence, and a primal, undeveloped part of my personal theology wishes that God would just put an end to it.   

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