I usually spend the Christmas season listening to Sarah McClachlan’s Wintersong, over and over again. This year, I couldn’t put my hands on it. I finally went down to Barnes and Noble this weekend to look for a replacement copy. The clerk shared that there was one copy in the store, but it was on hold. I promised him that I’d be the vulture in the racks in the hope that it would go unpurchased.
Sarah is my favorite muse of the soul. I went to see her live in concert at the Nokia Center a couple of years ago. Part of her way of connecting with the audience is to read notes out of a hat. They were pretty standard party fare, the most scurrilous being whether she goes “commando” on stage. Sarah was really patient.
She had just authorized the use of “In the Arms of the Angel” for the animal rescue centers. During her request that we make a donation to that community, Sarah told us that, much as she would like to respond to our questions, the entire band was wearing ear-plug monitors, and couldn’t hear anything that we were saying.
After the pitch for the animal rescue shelters, I focused my thoughts and said “Thank-you”. She almost jumped out of her skin. It was obvious to me that we share a connection somehow.
Sarah was going through a troubled time. Her husband had filed for divorce, and her children were travelling with the band. The next day I went out to her web site and posted a note to her, saying all the things that I wished I had been present enough to put into the hat for her.
I picked up Mirrorball maybe eight years ago, and it’s been a really powerful tool for me, rivalled in that sense only by Snatam Kaur’s Essentials. Kaur’s work is beautifully devotional, but Sarah gets really in deep with people’s pain. I don’t know how she processes it. It’s like a key for me when I’m in contact with people carrying deep psychic wounds. Even more, Sarah does it without bitterness. Almost all of Mirrorball sees life as a struggle that reveals the hope for grace in all of the participants.
So I offered her my perception that, if she would only recognize the healing forces that swirled around her, she might have some really beautiful experiences.
Last night, I had a strong urge to go back out to Barnes and Noble, and discovered that the CD was back on the racks. Happy, Happy!
I don’t know what possessed Sarah to create Wintersong in 2006. Most pop Christmas albums focus on the joy of the holiday season, but Wintersong is powerfully devotional, and not at all derivative. She sets “Noel” to the beat of African drums, and weaves it with “Mary, Mary” as a spiritual set to lute. “Wintersong” and “Song for a Winter’s Night” are originals that capture so beautifully the bittersweet feeling of being without the one we love on Christmas.
I’m listening now to “Little Town of Bethlehem”, and the rendering of “No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him still, Dear Christ enters in” still brings tears to my eyes, even after four years of listening.
So what if it’s not party music? I don’t know why it hurts so much, but it’s a gift, Sarah, that I know leads me into the joy of healing.