My mom and I went to the Michael W. Smith Christmas concert with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra last night, and I took Ava as an early Christmas gift for her. I grew up listening to Michael W. Smith's music, along with Amy Grant and other Christian artists, and I think I have every one of his 22 albums. When I started listening to him, I was a teenager, and he was a little younger than I am now. It seems like we blink, and suddenly twenty years has evaporated.
Music carries a raw power inside of it. I was thoroughly inspired by the act of creating something from nothing, which is of course the form all creative pursuits take. The musicians sat on the stage last night, instruments on their laps, and the enormous auditorium was silent. Then they raised violins to their shoulders, flutes to their lips and hands hovered over piano keys, and suddenly from the silence there was magic in the air.
Music is meant to stir us emotionally, to create a specific mood and move us from our cynicism into a joy that we didn't know was within us. It elevates us from ourselves into something greater than we are. It felt like a mirror to my soul, and what I saw there said, "All is well." After a turbulent period of time, it was like a breeze blowing gently after a summer storm, pushing away the clouds and the rain, and leaving peace and joy in its wake.
Singing Christmas carols with thousands of other people brought me to tears. Life is filled with simple beauties if we will open our eyes and hearts to them. Last night I opened my metaphorical hands and felt as if I received this gift of stillness and peace. It was like eating a sumptuous banquet, but instead of nourishing my body, it fed my soul, and that kind of sustenance lasts much longer than food.
I am grateful to Michael W. Smith and the CPO for the experience I had last night. I've been looking for peace and rest in this Christmas season, and finding it has been one of the greatest gifts of my life so far. Last night, everyone in the room experienced it: the simple, soaring joys of bagpipes, snare drums, and a host of instruments working together to create something meaningful which stirs the soul. I will never forget it, and I hope Ava keeps it with her forever as well.