Wachet! betet! wachet!
That's Watch! pray! watch! in Bach's German from the cantata he wrote and that was first perfomed for the second Sunday in Advent in 1716. That year it was December 6. Three hundred years later I heard it in Chapel by The Lake in Juneau on Sunday Dec. 4. I will say it makes me feel grateful for my mother's emphasis on our church music education, but honestly? Bach is so beautiful, and so fun to watch a community orchestra play and a community choir sing, that I can't quite explain it, but you'd have to be a rock frozen in the ice on Twin Lakes to be ummoved by it. Nancy Nash from Haines was in the orchestra, and I sat next to my doctor friend who delivered two of my babies here in Juneau; one of Eliza's little sisters and her only brother. I took that as a very good sign.
Joanna lives in Juneau now and Christian is surfing in Australia where Advent is warm and sunny and Christmas is a summer holiday. We spoke last night on Facetime, so we could see his tan and smile and all that blonde hair. When he was born my mother came to help out, and when my baby boy was James' age, she said his long hair and big smile reminded her of a Swedish rock star. Last night, looking at his still untamed mane, James said his uncle looked like a lion. I asked Christian about the sharks. Are there many? He said there a lots where he is but he watches out for them. I did not say that I pray for him everyday.
Watch and pray. It's what mothers do.
Maybe that's why I liked that Bach concert so much. There's a reason those words and the music to go with them resonated in my soul three hundred years after they were written.
Mary Oliver writes that I should pay attention, which is another phrase for watch. She also notes that a prayer doesn't have to be anything more (or less) than stringing a few heartfelt words together and whispering them to the holy spirits.
So, we are here, in very cold Juneau, waiting, watching, praying, and eating too many Christmas cookies. (Eliza bakes the best jam thumbprints.) This evening we are planning to attend the annual Governor's mansion holiday open house (with thousands of cookies.) That is if we don't have a new baby on the way by then.