Thursday, December 17, 2015

A word (or two) about Christmas

Haven't been here for awhile - ummm...that's sort of obvious, tho,isn't it? Sorry folks! My illness waxes and wanes, and right now, it's waxin'.  Or, as those in the know describe it, it's in a "flare." That means that all my symptoms are doing a wax job on my body, too - I should be one shiny, slick human when this lets up. Plus, I've caught the local bug that's going around everywhere. It's been a week now, and shows no signs of letting go, especially the cough. Because my immune system took a hike 20 years ago, I get pneumonia a little faster than the population.

It's hard to be sick around the holidays, isn't it?

Since most of those who read this blog are chronically ill too, I think the LORD has us out in a lifeboat bailing water.  It's hard to see all the excitement and busy holiday fun stuff 3 feet away and know it's too far to go.  So many things I miss - making cookies, decking the halls , decorating a Christmas tree.  I miss having Munchkins crawling around and laughing and big family dinners and family jokes - you know the kind, the ones no one who didn't grow up with you has a clue about - and the not-so-polite-loudly-commented-upon things that kids say at the precise moment that everyone in the room falls silent, only to be stored in the family memory bank and brought out at the holidays.

And when that child grows big enough to blush, their indiscreet moments are resurrected with teasing twinkles and general laughter.

In my family, out of the 6 folks we started out with, we have dwindled down to two.

My one remaining brother and I have buried all the rest.

And all in December except the one in January.

So starting on December 24, in 1964, my father died. The 15th when my mom was called Home in 1996. December 31st, my oldest brother died in 1997. And then my baby brother in January of 2003 at the age of 45.

My sister in law, who has been my bestie since we were 14 years old, and I have taken to going out for dinner on the anniversary of their Home-going,when possible, and toasting the coronation of our family members with clinking glasses full of water.

The absence of those cherished souls, their voices muted until we, too, fall silent on earth and begin praising in the midst of the angels, still makes the heart ache.We celebrate the annual event as a coronation day.   It helps, but nothing can mend the hole in the heart upon their Home-going.

The sharp, jagged edges of the hole smooth out a bit, but nothing will mend it until we, too, wake up and breathe celestial air, no doubt to hear someone start laughing and telling all those stories of family folklore. Hmmm... I wonder if you can get embarassed in Heaven...

And, at this time of year especially,  I think our hearts grow lonely for those who beat us Home. We see windows as out of a Kinkade painting, the warmth and light streaming out beckons us. Oh my  - it looks so cozy in there... and snippets of laughter and joy slip from doors opened in welcome, of families safely in, of cold and loneliness kept out.

Then God had humans begin the tradition of  the lovely decorations of Christmas lights, to remind us of the One Who is Light, and in Him is no darkness At All.

At All. 

As the first night fell after my Mom went Home, 2 of my brothers drove me home from my 3rd brothers house.  I sat in the back seat, watching all the Christmas lights on homes.  It had been one of my mother's favorite things to do - driving around  to "see the lights."  It was something the two of us did every year.

Just she and I.

And at that moment, I almost couldn't bear it. I felt my heart tear.

So I said to Jesus, "Lord, she loved this so much, so very much. And I can't take her to see the lights, ever again, She'll never see them again."

Quick as a wink, His whisper came to me: "What your mother is looking at right now makes those lights so pale in comparison.  She is so full of joy, she cannot hold another drop."

So...if you, too, are seated at a table with empty chairs and missing voices, with a  fresh and jagged hole in your heart, or one smoothed out a bit, but a hole nonetheless, talk to Jesus about it.  He lost His earthly father - He knows what that feels like. And He had the added pain of knowing He had the ability to heal Joseph, but His Heavenly Father said, "no." I cannot imagine having that power, and being unable to use it as that one you love slips away. 

I have written a lot of Christmas poems - under the picture above is a link to the poetry page. The implications of that miracle are seldom talked about - how could God have slipped His great heart into a tiny baby? It always takes my breath away, to realize that Jesus put away all of His power, all of His ability to be omnipresent, not just for 33 years, but forever. In essence, Jesus gave away His  freedom, so that we could be free.

How all of heaven must have held their breath at the moment He was clothed with a body, to see the actual heart of the Living God, wrapped in human flesh.

It gives me the chills
 Which is why I write poetry, and why a lot of it is about Christmas.  Oh look!  Here's one:

I find within a longing to return,

To somehow crawl back

To the Christmases of my youth -

To smell again the straw-filled manger scene

And hear the child-known lowing of the stable cow,

To have my eyes stretched wonder-wide

By magic lights and sparkling beams

From tinselled, star-crowned pines.

But more, I long for a toddling, trusting faith

To sense the Spirit-hush of birthing Gift,

To hear the God-babe's newborn cry,

To join the threadbare, trembling shepherds

Kneeling at His feet.

I want to lead the Magi in,

See their delighted faces glow

And watch tears stream down weathered cheeks

To fall on shimmering cloaks.

Oh! Let me bow beside them there,

Prostrate before this Promised King

And worship, filled with awe,

While angels sing.

If I don't get back here again beforehand, I wish you a Christmas filled with awe and wonder.

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