I’ve been trying since Friday to formulate my thoughts on the events at a little school in a little town in Connecticut. Some things run so deep that looking them in the face is scary; and speaking them out loud is so insufficient. I’ve watched the newscasts, the president’s speech; I’ve “liked” calls for gun control and supports for mental illness treatment in this country.

In this age that brings us closer than we might like to one another, I’ve read posts from friends worrying about sending their kids to school today. And I’ve thought about the young children in my life, my parents, the fifth grade theater class I observed on Thursday. But I never cried. I sighed and shook my head, but I never cried. Until Saturday, listening to Iris Dement on A Prairie Home Companion.

Sometimes music unlocks me when I need unlocking. Sandy Hook’s events were so unthinkable that I resisted contemplating them directly. Music helps me focus and process and heal. When I was very young, I had more temper tantrums in a year than most kids have in their whole lives. They would come out in bursts of uncontrolled emotion – rage, frustration, fear.  My mother was a singer, and knew how to soothe me with a song. To this day, music and dancing help me unlock. And I needed to unlock on Friday.

Collective creative expression – not just listening, but singing, together can help us heal and make meaning. Every Christmas Eve, my church congregation would light candles,  turn out the lights and sing “Silent Night.” All together, in the flickering darkness. Those silent nights provided a sense of fellowship that was so comforting – I realize why they call it “communion.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to church. But that desire to commune with others in song, dance, and art, runs deep. It’s healing; it’s meaning-making when meaning is scarce. So, this holiday season amid so much tragedy – this time of rest and peace and light through darkness – I wish you singing and dancing with others. I wish you artful communion with friends and strangers. I wish you music and dancing til your throat and feet ache.

-Jess
Jessica Mele, Executive Director