I had just sent my blogpost suggesting “relax” as the guidepost for this holiday season. I closed by saying, “God will give us a holy season.”

I turned on WQXR-FM – and to my wondering ears came a stunning performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I joined just as the choral movement was beginning.

I stopped everything, turned up the volume, and lost myself in the crowning achievement of Beethoven’s career and perhaps the greatest choral work of all time. Composed when he was fully deaf and unable to hear a sound that he called out, the Ninth shouts to God in agonizing beauty.

It is, I imagine, how God views humankind. We get so twisted up in our dreams and our fears, our pride and our falling away. We’re like that astonishing point in the choral movement when chorus and soloists are all singing dense lines that hardly seem related, and then the soprano soloist soars in a brief phrase that resolves it all and, like the piccolo that follows, airs the tender and yet durable promise that God is with us.

Then comes one more tragically brief reprise of the majestic theme – a chorus I have wanted all my life to sing – and Beethoven sprints to the finale, like a dying person who sees the end and reaches for it eagerly.

So, yes, God does give a holy season.



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