A Song in Your Brain

~Ralph Milton

They call them ear worms. A song that lodges in a corner of your brain somewhere and refuses to be dislodged.

The one I find cycling through my synapses is an Advent carol the choir has sung. “We Are Waiting,” in which the sopranos carry the tune and most of the words but the guys sing, “waiting, waiting, waiting” over and over again.

I know exactly why that worm is wiggling in my brain. Bev and I were talking just now about how this is the first time in our lives when we’ve had nothing to do except wait.
We live in the Dorchester, a seniors’ residence just a few blocks from the church. The average age of the inmates is about 90. Bev and I are in our mid-eighties. It is aging physiognomies such as ours the COVID 19 virus finds most tasty.

We are in semi-lockdown. We can move about the building but almost all activities and recreations are suspended. We can walk circles around the building for exercise. The staff is most helpful. But friends and family can’t come to see us and we can’t go out to see them.

It’s really easy to feel sorry for ourselves, and we certainly do that from time to time. But last night I looked at an historical novel I wrote some years ago called Julian’s Cell about the life of a remarkable woman who lived in the 14th century. When she was a child, bubonic plague killed almost half of the people. Many others starved because the entire economy shut down. No shops selling bread or anything else.

We’re old enough to have heard stories about the 1918 flu epidemic, and how that burned through the world. My mother was 18, and remembered it well.

So here we are, sitting up in the Dorchester, feeling as if we’re in some kind of a prison. But we have a telephone. We have a computer. We have a television. We have shelves full of books. We get good meals delivered. The staff will go to the store and buy things for us.

We have each other!

We live in BC, in Canada, where we have a responsive, responsible government with an imperfect but excellent health care system.

And we are part of a church community (you all!) that phones to check if we are OK, that comes to us via Zoom every Sunday, that is full of friends we cherish.

That worm in my head sometimes gets beyond the repeated “waiting” chant and I hear the line, “Emmanuel is coming, to lead us to the light.”


Emmanuel is coming and has come and we are indeed living in the light!

So thanks to all of you.

And thanks to God who sometimes puts irritating worms in our brains.