Atticus was in the other room singing quietly to himself as he played with his trucks, and I heard him singsong something that sounded an awful lot like, “It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.” I couldn’t remember ever playing that song for him, but he (eventually) told us they play it sometimes at school during quiet/nap time. If he is telling the truth (unreliable narrator ahoy), then, well-played, school. I like your music choices, even if it was, as I assume, the version from Shrek. To confirm, I played a few different versions for him, and he sang along a bit and it was a fun moment in our child’s musical education.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about that broken hallelujah, the one he latched on to. How funny that he would pick that line to sing during Advent, as we talked to him about waiting for Jesus. And how sad, too. He’s not supposed to know about that brokenness yet. We’re supposed to be able to protect him from it.
Of course he does know about the broken parts, at least a little bit. He is a lucky boy, loved and cared for, but there is no way to keep him safe from pain and grief and harm. The celebration of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but the world is still waiting for redemption. Our hallelujahs are joyful but they are shaky, too, because of people we have lost and relationships that can’t be mended and terrible things we see on the news. The light is steady but sometimes the darkness seems like it will win. This is the already-not-yet where we make our home, and I think part of Advent and Christmas is recognizing how powerful the darkness can be, even now, but holding on to hope while we wait.
On Sunday, after we slipped into the last pew, Atticus smiled in recognition of the first song. He sang the entire first verse of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” his sweet strong voice (thank you, Charlie Brown). This was the first time we’ve all sung together at church, and it was powerful to see him connecting something we taught him at home with something in the wider world. There is brokenness and there is glory, and our lives combine the two. May the light and hope of Christmas be present in those broken places this year. Merry Christmas, friends.