Peace and joy

The day after a wonderful, wonderful Christmas – a day of relaxation and even a small feeling of let-down. Christmas is all about anticipation – and the day lived up to its hype.

My mother and I ate Christmas Eve lunch with a friend, opened presents after supper and then I went to the midnight candlelight service. Christmas morning was breakfast – blueberry waffles – and then Santa Claus. Even though everyone here is an adult, the jolly old fellow still comes to visit. I guess his helper has changed ove rthe years, however.

We heard from family – my cousin, my brother, Becki (my stepsister), Jason. It is so nice to hear from these folks. Jackie said that she and Russ spent Christmas apart for the first time in 33 years – he was helping Troy move and she was in Virginia with her mother who now lives with them.

A day of peace and joy – that was my Christmas.

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Christmas Eve is here

Christmas Eve – and I’ve finished the running around that getting ready for Christmas takes. I never realized how much my mother did when we were kids – far more than I do. She baked cookies and candy, we delivered presents all over town, she had family for the holiday (a couple of weeks worth) and fed all of us. She sent out cards – tons of them. Wow!

I have trouble buying and wrapping presents, cooking Christmas dinner and sending out cards.

But I’m finished now. We’ll rest a little and have supper. We may go to the love Feast, but I definitely will go to the 11 p.m. candlelight service at Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church. That’s the church I grew up in and the one I always spend Christmas in.

It’s a misty Christmas Eve – not terribly cold but feeling nippy. The rainy drizzle comes and goes. The sky is gray. The clouds are low. But it’s quiet and peaceful in my mother’s apartment. I’m happy.

Hope all the rest of the world is, too.

Daddy – I remember

Every Christmas  I realize once again how many seasons I’ve missed with my father. He died in 1971 (he was just 51 years old). I never saw him grow old. I never saw him retire (except from the U.S. Air Force when he was youngish). And I didn’t have a clue how young 51 really was. Now, I’m years past that age – 15 years past it. I’ve had the years he never had.

But one of the things I remember is how much he loved Christmas! He was a kid about it. And he bequeathed that love to me. We had wonderful Christmas holidays with my mother and my brother, Chip. We decorated the house. We baked (he tasted). And on Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story in Luke or Matthew, opened presents and attended the midnight Christmas Eve service.

Santa came the next morning – and still comes even though no children live in my mother’s retirement apartment. I think every person has a little child inside them, especially at Christmas. So Christmas morning we still jump or (or crawl out of bed) to see what Santa left.

Christmas is love – and that’s a lesson I learned from my father.

The season – has it gone?

The news from the Connecticut school massacre was devastating and continues to be. Why does the United States have sunch a love affair with guns? But my reaction was to the kids and families:

The Season
The lights are strung.
The bells are ringing.
The presents – most of them – are wrapped.
Joy brings smiles and laughter, love and caring.
Then – 11 days before Christmas – the season ends.
A bitter, sad, embattled man uses a gun to bring others down.
At the end, 20 little kids and 6 adults became angels.
Christmas – the season – has ended.
Or has it?
Those angels were greeted by Jesus.
He hugged them and consoled them.
He promised that he would be there for the families left behind.
He would wipe their tears and reassure them that their loved ones are safe.
Those families will cry on Christmas, but the Babe will be with them.
That tiny infant, who once lay in a manager, will remind them of the
Hope he gives to them and to the angels newly received in Heaven.

 

Time

6-25-2011

It curves; it twists: it expands; it shrinks. Einstein said it is relative.

What does that mean?

As I looked at time as a little girl, I thought it stretched. Christmas took “forever” to arrive. And Christmas Eve seemed to last twice as long as it should before Santa arrived.

I reached school. Now time seemed pretty elastic. A school day sometimes seemed to be 24 hours long. But summer vacation just galloped past, not giving me time to enjoy it all.

Then I grew up. Exams could last forever. Meetings with bosses had minutes that crawled. Holidays flew past.

But I dreamed then. The speed of light is constant and nothing can move any faster. But I thought, “What would it be like it I traveled at nearly the speed of light.” I could get to the sun in what – maybe eight minutes. Or I go could back more than 13 billion years to the ‘Big Bang’ when the universe was created.

Those were mind tricks. As I grew older, it seemed time passed faster.  It appeared that Christmas or birthdays arrived as soon as they passed. Deadlines – a necessity in journalism – seemed to roll around faster as the years went by.

But I think, “How did I reach my 60s. Surely that many years have not passed?” And I look at my mother. She’s seen the arrival of cars, airplanes, rockets, space shuttles. She was around for men walking on the moon and for the explosion of the computer and the Internet.

Does her time speed by faster than mine or faster than my nieces or faster than her great-grandchildren’s? Einstein said, “No.”  I’m not sure I agree.  I’ve spent about 34,394,560 minutes on this earth. And I’m sure the ones in the last fourth of that time have sped by faster than the ones when I was a

The First Mother

Eve huddled in the scrawny shade of an olive tree.

She knew she shouldn’t be there. She had plenty of work to do, a meal to prepare and a cave to clean.

But there she sat.

“What can I do?” she thought. “I can’t mourn Abel because I’m scared of what will happen to Cain. I can’t help Cain because I’m too busy missing Abel.”

With tears trickling down her cheeks, she thought – just as the mothers who came after her would think.

“I know this is my fault. What did I do wrong? How could I have failed Cain so much? How could I fail to protect Abel?”

Looking up at the searing sun, she thought back over the short lives of her two sons.

Cain, the eldest, was just 19. A farmer, he spent long hours tending the fields and nurturing his plants. When harvest was ready, he brought the first and best of all his crops to her. She would have characterized him as a gentle man. And now he was lost and frightened.

Abel. Her younger son had been a brawny youngster of 16, one who spent long hours following his flocks. He watched over them closely and could soothe the most frightened lamb. He offered his best to God and to her. Now she would never see him again except in her dreams.

“His blood calls out to me!” she thought. “But I can’t forget Cain, who also needs redemption and help.”

Thinking back to the Garden before she and Adam sinned and were forced out into the world full of work, pain and sorrow, she knew things could have been different. But who could have made it different?

“The serpent tempted me with the fruit of the one tree God told us not to eat. But it was just one little fruit. Who knew that the knowledge of good and evil could be so devastating? So maybe it’s the serpent’s fault,” she thought.

After mediating a bit, she shook her head slowly.

“No, I was the one who decided to eat. Yes, the serpent enticed me. But I had a choice and I chose. As soon as I realized the sin – and how great it was – I sought cover. I found Adam and invited him to share the fruit of the tree. I thought if he refused, maybe God would forgive me because my husband was such a good man. And if he ate, at least I wouldn’t be alone in my sin.

“No, I can’t do that to Adam. Yes, he had the same choice that I did. But his wrong choice didn’t make my wrong choice any better,” Eve thought.

Eve looked up again. She’d been here a long time and the sun was now low in the sky.

“Maybe, just maybe,” she thought, “It’s God’s fault. After all, he was the one who gave us the choice. He knew what I was going to do before I did it. How is that real choice?”

Pondering ever more deeply, the woman realized she couldn’t blame God. She would not be human if she didn’t have that choice. God may have had foreknowledge, but he didn’t force the choice.”

There it was – all her fault. She sat with the tears trickling through the fingers.

“Mama,” she heard. “Mama, where are you?”

She looked up. Flying down the path was Tamara, her youngest child. The beautiful 5-year-old sang as she ran.

“Mama, I couldn’t find you. Where did you go? It’s scary when you’re not around,” Tamara said as she sank down on the hard dirt beside her mother.

Eve knew then that God had given her an answer for her pain.

Yes, she had sinned. Yes, both her sons had paid for that sin.

But she had another chance. She had Tamara. She could teach her to be thoughtful of others and God, to thank God for all her blessings and to think before she acted.

Eve jumped up and pulled Tamara up by the hand.

“Come along, child. We have much to do,” she said. “We have to prepare flowers for your brother Abel’s grave so he’ll know we are remembering him. We must fix a lunch for your brother Cain so he can leave and find shelter elsewhere. But he’ll know we are remembering him.

“And even more, we must laugh and sing and find your father. He is sad and we must cheer him up,” Eve said. “You are my brightness, my dove. You must help me make the desert a home again.”

And they did.