Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Prayer

"I'm sorry you have to work today."

I had to make a quick stop at Walgreens this morning on my way to my parents' house, where I'd be joining the rest of my family for present-opening and breakfast.  While I was grateful that the store was open, I also truly was sorry that there were people who had to be up and at work on Christmas morning.

"I's OK.  I volunteered to be here. I have grown kids.  They have little ones and have a lot of running around to do during the holidays.  I tell them I don't want them to make an obligatory stop, but to come because they really want to.  I get melancholy around the holidays, so I offer to work."

I wondered what the full story was, what had happened that her kids wouldn't want to see her on Christmas.  I didn't ask.  I hoped that she was amused by the penguin pajamas I had on (opening presents Christmas morning doesn't feel right unless we're in pjs).  She said I might be surprised at how many people come in their pajamas on an ordinary day.

I bought what I needed to, wished her a merry Christmas, and she offered the same good cheer to me.

This afternoon I went with my parents to see "Saving Mr. Banks."  If you're not familiar with the movie, it's about the negotiations between Walt Disney and Mrs. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins.  It was only when Mrs. Travers found herself in poor financial health that she conceded to let her book be made into a movie. Disney had been trying to make the movie for 20 years.  Mrs. Travers was not the most cheerful or trusting woman. The movie provided insight into how she got to be that way.

I thought again of the woman at Walgreens, the woman whose name I hadn't noticed.  I wondered how her day has been and if working helped her deal with her holiday melancholy.

The holidays can be difficult. So can the rest of the year. And so tonight my hope, my prayer is

for all those who are working to ward off loneliness,
for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones,
for those who are simply alone,
for those without homes,
for those who are cold,
for those who are hungry,
for those who suffer from addictions,
for those who are ill,
for those who are fighting,
for those who are innocent but cannot escape violence,
for those who are violent because they don't know any other way to be,
for those who don't recognize the blessings around them,
for so many who struggle through the holidays and many other days,

that they may know hope,
that they may know joy,
that they may know love,

that we may learn their names
and stories

that they may see themselves as children of God,
that we may honor them as the same

that we may recognize Christ
when we look at them

and treat them as such.

To honor this day
(every day)
may we be hope,
may we be joy,
may we be love
for our world.


Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Out of the Pit

For about a month and a half after returning from Palestine, my back was tight.  My neck was tight.  My everything was knotted in tension.  It was the tears I was holding in. I wanted them to come out and at the same time I was afraid that they would present themselves at the wrong time. They tried to, but I fought them enough to control them and the tension continued.  Last week the tears finally, finally came out.  It wasn't Palestine that prompted them, but some self-indulgence, loss of perspective, and later in the week, allowing myself to be pulled into a drama that ultimately was not very dramatic.  I cried. And I realized afterwards that my back is not so tense.  Neither is my neck.

I don't recommend jumping into pits of self-indulgence or dramas that don't really exists.  They're not fun.  However, if you're there, I do recommend acknowledging that place.  "Here I am.  I am sad.  I am lonely. I am ________.  And that is OK."  We all have pits we fall into.  And that is OK. As long as we know we won't be there forever.  It might take being in the pit for a while, but eventually we will find our way out.

I knew for some time that I was in the pit, but I was clinging to the sides, not letting myself fall to the bottom, for fear of what was there, for fear of how far below the surface the bottom might be.

I did reach the bottom (it wasn't as low as I'd feared) and I could no longer not let the tears flow. It took so much energy trying to keep them in.  When I did finally cry, cry the way I needed to, those very tears I was so afraid to let out did something amazing.

They lifted me up.

They filled the hole that seemed so deep and I floated up to where I could see the light and regain the perspective I needed to know that I'd be walking above ground again soon.  From that place, not quite out of the pit, I could see what I needed to do to step out and that there were people to help me do so.  I could see where I needed to walk so that I wouldn't fall right into another one.  I could see that if I did fall again, there were people nearby who would help me the next time, whenever that might be.

If I let them.

I am good at talking and writing about our inherent interconnectedness.  At the same time I have a warped notion in my head that I should be able to do everything on my own, that even though we are interconnected, I shouldn't really need other people.  This idea is deeply ingrained in me for reasons that seem to multiply as I try to pin them down.  Perhaps I'll explore them on another day.

For today, I'll leave it at this:  I am grateful for tears whose buoyancy I had forgotten.  I am grateful to be out of the pit.  I am grateful for those who were near the pit, trying to help me out, even though it took me a long time to accept their offers.  I am grateful for those who walk with me now.