|Photo by Hanna Gordon-Smith.|
Robert arrived at the church near the end of the previous minister's tenure, stayed based on a spirit of compassion and good works that he modeled. And he continued when Dr. Harmon retired, determined to give the new man a chance. But as each Christmas began to shine on the horizon, Robert's spirits started to sink. He wished for just a bit more of the absent fragrant greens, "God bless us every one," singing of the carols he'd learned in grade school and less of what came on him like frostbite, an extinguishing of his cheerful flame. He nearly grew to loathe Thomas and the story. He developed an aversion.
His nostalgia was for Perry Como, department store Santas, decorations from the five-and-dime and a mug of cocoa consumed at a formica-topped kitchen table. Of course one couldn't blame Dylan Thomas for an emotionless, husk-dry recitation of a work that in the hands of another would be stirring, visually rich and could speak, child to child across the years. Those nights when he wished for a semi-adult version of visions of sugarplums, even the strands of white lights woven through the parking lot oak tree seemed like part of a Russian landscape seen from the night train to St. Petersburg.
Then Robert shook himself, or was it a shiver, and focused on where he was - now - and what awaited. He'd allowed himself a respite from thoughts about THE DANCE. He identified with Jason Robard's speech as Ben Bradlee on the front lawn in his bathrobe in ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, telling Woodward and Bernstein that, "...there's nothing riding on this except, uh, the first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country." No wonder he needed to wander off for a while.