Sunday, December 09, 2012
We sang this piece at Mass tonight, the first time its been in our Advent playlist in a long time. I found this version by the Ignatian Schola while hunting up a video for the RevGalBlogPals Sunday Afternoon Video feature (where I ended up posting a version of Conditor Alme Siderum — Creator of the Stars of Night).
I didn't post this video, precisely because it left me unsettled and therefore felt not quite the thing for a feature that has as one of its aims to be a calm and meditative space for those who have ministered through the weekend. But yet..the contrast between the images here and warm and stilling Advent hymn seemed to fit a liturgical season that for me at least has felt 'wrecked.'
I don't mean wrecked in the sense of ruined (or even wrecked in the sense of the car accident I was in this weekend), but wrecked in its (admittedly obscure) sense of intentionally dismantled.
Yesterday I was part of a choreography workshop with Susan Rethorst in Philadelphia (in my scientist persona). Rethorst uses a technique she calls "wrecking" to make dances. She hands over a piece in progress to another choreographer and invites them to make it their own, completely and utterly. This 'wrecking' is not simply destruction, but repurposes what remains to new ends, takes what might seem awkward or unsuitable and resets it, renews it, reuses it — re-creates it. It is a dismantling, in its oldest sense: a breaking down of my defenses, a "reversing of the cloak" that I wear. It requires utter surrender.
This video made me think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's suspicion about our expectations of the Advent and Christmas seasons, that we "are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable part of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lay claim to us." This video 'wrecks' the song, turning the consoling words and peaceful melody into a challenge. What would it take for me to don the cloak of comforter and walk into the cold, rather than huddle within the warmth of the season? Utter surrender.