This year the Christmas season held little joy for me. There were a few brief moments of pleasure that vanished all too soon. Seeing a small child’s delight in the twinkling tree lights. Selecting gifts for my family, friends and neighbors. Watching my granddaughter perform the role of Clara in a local production of the Nutcracker. Those times did little to halt my feelings of regret and grief.
On Christmas Eve, I sat with my family in a pew in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and huddled in my coat. The chill I felt had nothing to do with the voices of the choir raised in joyful celebration, or in the message of hope and peace contained in the sermon and the liturgy. My feelings were caused by things I had and had not done.
Though we sat several rows in front of the place where death had stained the stones of the floor, my awareness of past events nearly drove me to leave. Remembering last month’s Evensong and the death of the choir master brought frost-filled memories and stirred my guilt. For my covetousness had brought him here, and I’d been the one to discover the body.
Your fault. Your fault. Those words had circled in my thoughts for weeks.
As the candles were lit at midnight, I prayed my role
in Roger Brandon’s death would fade and I could forgive myself. I also knew my
decision to welcome the New Year in