SunriseIt was a quiet Christmas this year. And, while I did miss my children and grandchildren, who were celebrating elsewhere, it brought me into an introspective mood that otherwise would have evaded me.

Music is a wonderful part of the holiday mood and I listened to a lot of it. Traditional Christmas carols, preferably sung by the choir of King’s College, brought me back to the holiday seasons of my childhood. I saw my mother, covered with the dustings of her baking, the kitchen filled with the scent of cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. How she worked so hard at making a festive Christmas that she was exhausted afterwards. And how she revelled in the results: the shining eyes of her children and the compliments from her friends.

I listened to Bach and Arvo Pärt, their tonal perfection soothing my restless spirit. And then I happened upon a remarkable little video: Tania Kassis performing Ave Maria accompanied by the Adhan “Allah Akbar”. A perfect melding of Islamic and Christian beliefs. And, even though I am aware that Muslims also revere Maria, the performance moved me to tears. Grief took hold of me and I found myself in my armchair, clutching the cat, sobbing away.

Surprised at this outburst, I examined the grief carefully, searching for traces of suppressed loneliness or self-pity. But that wasn’t lurking in the emotion, it was pure, unadulterated grief at the realisation that the world seems further away from peace than it ever was.

Some naive, childish part of me wants to believe that world peace will arrive, like a miraculous birth or even apocalypse. But I have learned enough about the evolution of society to know that there will always be people who distrust and hate those who are other than themselves.

And there will always be people who strive to understand each other and feel only good will towards all mankind. Not only mankind but to all life on earth. It is those people, and I count myself and my readers among them, who will have to work hard to achieve peace. Maybe not in our lifetime, but in that of our descendants.

So, this year my New Year’s resolution has very little to do with myself. I pledge to do all I can to achieve that state of grace described in the old text, “and on earth peace, good will toward men”. And I would add to that, good will toward all that lives.



  1. Mary Lou Gillette

    Maddi, I share your feeling of grief. For the first time in my life I find myself choking on the words, “Happy New Year”. The words are hard to manage when so many on this earth are wiping tears of grief and despair from their eyes. I find solace in my faith , my family and my friends, but my confidence in mankind has been sorely shaken. I wonder why it is so hard for humans to be kind. Each one of us begins life pure and innocent. Why can we not nurture that side of us more strongly? I caution my grandson daily with the words, “Do not forget to be kind”. I hope he will remember them.

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Mary Lou. I believe you do what you can. As I do. Teaching these truths to our grandchildren is so important. I remember despairing of my children when they were still in their teens. And yet, as adults, I see how they do embody the values I tried to instill in them back then. So, speaking your truth is the most important thing you can do.

  3. very nice Maddie

  4. Maddi, I always read your posts, & am a lazy responder. But, this post really spoke to me & I’m grateful to you for writing it. I can relate to how music will pierce the heart & set me to an ache so deep that I start to cry…as you described. Sometimes, it’s from sadness that wells up from within. Sometimes though it is a larger, existential pain highlighting an existence in a world that can’t find its way to harmony. I feel this keenly enough that, while I wish for world peace & the ending of cruelty & mistrust, I can’ t help but feel that this will just not happen in my lifetime or ever. The idealistic Jody of my youth seems to have gone missing. But, your new year’s resolution brought a renewal to the commitment of doing my part for after all, isn’t this all we can really do? So like you, I aim to reach for that state of grace & kindness to keep an open heart for all. I am truly grateful that your words stirred thought & contemplation to bring me to this place!

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