Last night at the community performance of Handel's Messiah I noticed a group of teens wearing unusual headgear--floppy knit hats with floofy things hanging from them--but I did not scoff because (a) the hats weren't any more ridiculous those I often wore in public during my own ridiculous-hat stage; (b) these adolescents' presence at a long baroque musical event more popular with the white-haired crowd is something to celebrate; and (c) in addition to ridiculous hats, they wore face masks, which is more than I can say for many others.
Masks were required for the event, but many in the crowd interpreted "required" loosely. Way up front I saw a group of about a dozen Mennonite teens covering their heads with tiny white bonnets and delicate white scarves, but not one of them was wearing a mask. Maybe it's a religious thing? Mennonites are supposed to avoid personal adornment, but a plain drab mask doesn't seem like much of an adornment. (Neither does a ventilator, but let's not go there.)
It felt really good to be out amongst people enjoying the kind of performance that provides an emotional boost at the start of Advent. I kept thinking of the hymn we sang in church Sunday morning, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," which looks forward to a time "When peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling." That's just what we all need right now: a bunch of ancient splendors being flung about as we run around with arms stretched out to catch them.
I caught some splendors the other day from my amazingly talented Jackson neighbor Judy, whose hobby is making beautiful quilts for family, friends, and strangers. Yes, she's the sort of person who entertains herself by crafting hand-made quilts to donate to needy children she'll never meet, but this time she'd made a quilt featuring 60 friendship stars in honor of my upcoming 60th birthday. I wrapped myself in that quilt and felt surrounded by love. I wish I could walk around wrapped in that quilt all week long, but it's a little unwieldy and I would hate to drag such a splendid gift in the dirt.
Instead, I propose that we all put on our most ridiculous hats, crank up the holiday music, and run around catching splendors wherever they are being flung, because what's the point of flinging splendors if no one's around to catch them?