Friday, December 28, 2012

Ending One Year, Starting Another

Well that last post was pretty serious. I know it's the season of joy but I was living in this sober state for at least part of the time leading up to Christmas. I did enjoy the few days around Christmas very much! I had friends around and made a traditional Christmas breakfast for my brother and his wife. That was a very last minute thing. I don't want to end this year without some joy and gratitude expressed for God's rich goodness to me. I wish I saw it more and more. I am very blessed to have a cozy roof over my head and a little bit of community here in my home and neighborhood. Despite being a little financially strapped at this point in life, I am so thankful for God's provision.

On Christmas Day I went to see Les Miserables. The new film adaptation of this classic Victor Hugo story was outstanding. It was filmed in a way that allowed you to feel the emotion of the moment with the characters in each scene. The picture of one life transformed by God's grace shown through another up against the grace that was rejected even in the face of “the law” not working for him is such a stark picture. I love that grace. I want to live in 2013 in that grace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Struck with the Sadness

(I actually wrote this on Dec 18th but am just getting around to posting it today. Maybe it's best I saved it until after Christmas.)

The intensity of this season is starting to get to me. I love being in my own home with the all the homeyness this arrangement offers. I have some decorations up, including my skinny tree with all African ornaments – mostly sisal angels, mini baskets, and little gourds. It snowed properly out there a couple weeks ago so it looks like Christmastime to me.

But. An old friend passed away last week. It was unexpected. She was sick but no one thought it very serious. She had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall but was undergoing chemo and was doing well – or so it was thought. Turns out that about a week before she passed away the doctors discovered that she had a bunch of tumors. Her two daughters are in their early 20s, one still in college. I can't help thinking about G. She was the kind of friend you could pick up with again after a long time of not being in touch. I feel fortunate that I saw her about 14 months ago when I was touring with Afrizo. I stayed with her for a couple nights in their home in Queens. Now I can't stop thinking of her family and the great loss.

The news of the elementary school shootings in Connecticut was shocking. Today I saw another post on FB about ten small Middle Eastern girls who had gone to collect firewood and were blown up in a landmine explosion. I clicked on the article to see a photo of draped caskets all lined up. It hit me hard. Why is there so much death? I know this Christmas, like all since then, is a challenge for my sister-in-law who lost her mother on Christmas day eight years ago.

At the same time, I know many friends expecting babies or who have just giving birth, let me count: four just born in the last two weeks, two more on the way in the next two or three weeks. These are happy thoughts but what a world they come into.

For a moment I think of my own loss and loneliness. I am torn between the deep sadness I feel. I think of my mom while crafting for Christmas, my dad when I'm cooking a big holiday meal, my sister too with a the stories we told each other and laughed at our family history. I think too of how G is free from all the cares of this world. In some ways, I wish I were in her place. I would have been a better one to take, the losses to others would have been less and I am jealous for her freedom now. I have no daughter to get through college, no loving husband to miss me. I'm sure I would be missed but not like G is missed by so many close to her.

In some ways all of this is a distraction from Christ's appearing. He came to give life. We grieve death, but forget the eternal life that is the reality. G lives in the presence of Jesus rejoicing with no thought of the fuss on earth. I wish I could worship like that for even moments of the day. But hers is constant now. May I focus more on Him in this season and always.