We spent the evening yesterday at Disney Hall, singing the Messiah with two thousand other people in the annual “Messiah Sing-Along.”
It was truly wonderful, as in full-of-wonder, and I can’t completely explain why except to point to the power of mass ritual and of music.
And when we joined those two things together – singing in one slightly off pitch voice – it was a concrete reminder to me that none of us are alone, that we are part of a bigger thing which is shared with other people.
And if you wonder why it is that I feel that we all owe for what we’ve received from it, think for a moment about the message of the holiday, and of the choir.
We’re none of us alone, and we are a part of something bigger, to which we have obligation as we can and should expect it to have debt to us. We exchange gifts – give and are given to. We make concrete gestures to the other people in our lives, as they make them toward each of us.
As noted, I’m not a deeply religious or spiritual man; I just try and lead a good life in my own way. But I am moved by things that remind me that I am a part of something bigger which has given me a lot. And when I look for direction in my own life, I look toward paying off that debt that I owe and leaving more behind than I was given.
That and annoying my children, breaking speed laws, and the occasional other grin-inducing activity.