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A Holiday Message From YMF Senior Artistic Advisor Vijay Gupta

December 21, 2020

There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah.
  - Leonard Cohen

If you look up tonight and a clear view of the southwest skies – you will see a blaze of light. 

For the first in nearly 800 years, Jupiter and Saturn are aligning in the sky, in what astronomers are calling the “great conjunction”. An even greater miracle of this celestial dance is the fact that these planets are aligning on the very day of the winter solstice – December 21. They are calling it the “Christmas star”. 

This transcendent miracle, ending this broken year – this year, which has attacked our very life breath: the voices of millions chanting the last words of George Floyd (“I can’t breathe”) are still ringing in our ears. The hundreds of thousands devastated by COVID-19, a virus which attacks the cardio-pulmonary systems inside our bodies. The life-breath of music and education – the communal ritual of gathering to teach and sing and create music together – is no longer safe. At times, it seems like our very souls are crying out for breath – gasping for what nourishes us.

And yet, there are miracles, large and small. There is a blaze of light in every breath, in every moment. With the broken, there is also the holy. There are Christmas stars in the sky on the solstice. 

We are here. We are still breathing. 

What will we create, with this precious breath? With the blessing of this precious life? 

This year, I have been utterly transfixed by the incredible staff and teaching artists of Young Musicians Foundation, who have embraced the “great pause” of 2020 to embark on the most creative of acts: to evolve. The organization became both a refuge and a laboratory – a place to land, to breathe, and to continue growing. 

All of us in the YMF family have the immense opportunity to choose how we will interact with this world, as we rebuild, and recreate a more just, a more connected, a more artistic world. We do not create this world to return to ‘normal’. No – we evolve because we are compelled to. We are compelled to envision, to dream, to partner, and to practice. We are compelled to make room for the tragic crises and mourn and to create the world we long for – a world where we all belong, and can create belonging. 

The writer Peter Block says that “belonging is the longing to be”. It is the longing to be seen, and it is the longing to have the opportunities and skills and tools to create belonging. It is the longing to fill ourselves with miracles.  

Go out tonight and face south-west. Look at the night sky and take a breath. 

Fill yourself with the miracle of yourself. And let’s create our world again.