It’s been awhile. If you hadn’t noticed, my blogging has been lagging of late. Even in the busyness of the holiday season, I had promised myself that I’d post at least once a week, and I was doing it. The first three Sundays of Advent, I wrote something to go along with the theme of that week. But the weekend of the fourth Sunday of Advent, I had to do a funeral, and I was traveling to Kentucky to visit my family for Christmas, and to make a long story short, it just didn’t happen. But even before that, I was having some trouble. A well-meaning friend had told me after my first few blog posts, “Wow, you are knocking it out of the park every time!” And instead of being pleased, my first thought was, Well, shit. Now I can’t write anything mediocre. Continue reading “2014 With No Mistakes In It”
I have such mixed feelings about the holiday season that, I’ll admit, when one particular Christmas song comes on the radio, I change the words a little and sing, “It’s the most ambivalent time of the year!” I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I’m usually the first in my neighborhood to put up Christmas lights, and I look forward all year to my annual holiday party. But the past few years especially, I’ve been feeling kind of left out of Christmas. I hear all the songs on the radio, and watch all the movies, and see all the commercials, and walk past the greeting card aisle, and I get the impression that Christmas isn’t for people like me. It’s for people surrounded by big families, not for those of us who live alone with a dog and have family living hundreds of miles away. It’s for people whose gloriously romantic (and ridiculously wealthy) significant others buy them diamond jewelry and new cars with huge red bows on them, not for those of us without a significant other and living paycheck to paycheck. Most of all, it’s for people who are happy, and there are plenty of days that’s just not me. Continue reading “Ambivalence and Joy: Advent 3”
Israel made me nervous. In all my international travels, I had never been anywhere that I felt so unsafe. Before entering any of the shops in downtown Jerusalem, we had to have our bags searched for weapons, and it seemed every shopkeeper had a story to tell about a bombing that his or her business had managed to survive. One of my friends said that she felt protected because everywhere we went, there were teenage Israeli soldiers with guns. Their presence made me feel just the opposite. And yet every day, we heard “Peace.” Shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace,” is the common greeting there, and it was in our ears and on our lips at each stop along our journey. Shalom. Peace. Continue reading “Fear and Peace: Advent 2”
A powerful reminder that it’s about presence, not presents.
This I have gleaned
from multiple conversations with wise elders—
not just the wry, explicit word I’ve heard from so many now,
“Growing old is not for the weak or faint of heart,”
but also the sense that in our old age
we pay for the life we’ve lived—
the physical toll of our body’s work and play,
the daily wear and tear of a lifetime of days,
and the emotional toll—
all payment due for having lived long
and ventured to spend one’s self fully.
But in conversation with one wise woman,
the vital importance was clear
of remembering the joy—
the savor of what was.
So I know how I want to prepare for aging.
The questions are simple.
What are the memories I want to have,
and am I making them?
Because I want to store up
the kinds of memories that will sustain me—
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Last night, I was chaplain to a family dealing with a sudden loss. In their grief, they asked over and over, as so many of us do, “Why?” I didn’t even attempt an answer. Anything would have been just noise at that point. No matter what I said, their loved one would still be dead. The closest I can come to a reason why is that the world is not what it should be. In this season of the liturgical calendar, the lectionary readings remind Christians of just that. Continue reading “Grief and Hope: Advent 1”