Get Me Through December
There are moments when a song you’ve heard many times before suddenly speaks to you in a new way. Earlier this week, my Ipod ‘accidentally’ flipped to a song by Alison Krauss called “Get Me Through December.”
The first time I heard this song was just before the first Christmas season without my sister, who had died earlier that year of cancer. I had spent 11 months on a downhill trajectory, and by that December, I was praying for something, anything, to get me through. At that time, the song spoke to me of my sadness; the hopeful part, the desire to start again that is the essence of the song, did not even resonate. I listened to the song over and over, focusing mainly on the first stanza, which speaks of preparing for the long winter ahead, and the coldness of loss. The stanza ends with the line, “Faith can move mountains, of that I am sure…just get me through December, so I can start again.” At that point I was not sure about faith, or about wanting to start again. It was Christmas, and the belief that I was supposed to be happy and joyful made me feel guilt on top of the deep sadness. I just wanted December, and the Christmas season, to be over.
This week when I heard the song again, I understood that it is about the profound hope that can come after a long winter of pain. This past year has been a challenging one for many, and for us as a nation. I wonder how many are struggling through the holiday season with false gaiety, just hoping to make it through December. To start again.
Listening to the song this time, the second stanza stood out in bold relief: “No divine purpose brings freedom from sin, and peace is a gift that must come from within.” Good intentions are not enough, and peace comes from an inner knowing, an understanding of who we really are. The song reminded me of something I had forgotten in the aftermath of my sister’s death: that we must go within, and that perhaps it is even more important to do so when we face crisis, and during this hectic season. I’ve been listening to it over and over as a form of meditation on faith, the season and hope. The beauty of the melody, the piano and violin instrumentals, and especially Alison Krauss’s ethereal voice, clear as a winter sky….the song takes you from the depths of loss to hope, and finally, sets the heart soaring. It then brings the listener down to earth gently, ready to start again.