Monday, December 23, 2013

What child is this?

Children are full of joy, giggles and holy presence. As we say, what is Christmas without children? They may not know the stories, have life experience but they certainly know the feeling.

My two grands, four and two arranged the manger scene on the mantel last night.* They've never been to Sunday school, are not taught religion and yet the figurines were handled with excitement, great care and feeling. The donkey lost an ear, the Babe bounced from the mantle to the floor twice but both proved to be hardy. The children did not care, their eyes glowed as the two wise men and one wise women, the Mon and Dad took their place in the manger on the mantle.

The one foot Santa was unwrapped next. As the red suit and beard emerged -- an intake of breath. Eyes widened and mouths formed a perfect 0. A high octane sound of pure glee, innocence and deafening aliveness filled the room. Two children bursting their skin with an ecstasy welling up in an instant from a deep, deep land of joy, love, and aliveness.

Christmas is feeling and magic. "The deepest things after all are intangible."** All that matters to the two grands is the feeling -- the surge of joy, sweetness, and love from somewhere, some land within. Maybe this is the child our souls know about without religion, theology, without a face or a word, always waiting and always ready to birth in our mangers.

* Christmas 2012

Sunday, December 15, 2013


"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree..."

We put our Christmas tree up several nights ago, all eight feet plus. I missed the vertical launching. The grands were excited. I arrived back when they were leaving. My three and a half year old shouts as I get out of the car, "Grandma, the tree is up and it is awesome, the awe being drawn out. When I entered the living room I looked twice.

The angel on top had a slight lean toward the lake, and alas, so did the tree. However, we thought, not a bad lean, we'll straighten it later. After three days decorating it, this morning in all its tinseled and ornamented glory it was definitely "a symbol of good will and love." Two minutes before a friend arrived this afternoon, with no one calling "timber" I heard (what you have already guessed.) -- our "awesome" tree was horizontal  admist smashed ornaments, strewn lights and with garland where it should not be. "Oh Christmas tree, how could you, how could you?" be lying there resting so peacefully.

The door bell rings, without a word I invite my friend to see the living room. She looks, she gasps, saying, "I don't believe it." Neither can I. Then it strikes the bone that's funny. We begin to laugh. After she goes my daughter calls, I describe the scene before me. She chuckles. On Skype I show my horizontal tree, more merriment. Making my SOS call to our workman to raise it again, he laughs.

I sit here at my desk, amused and feeling different than this morning when decorating the tree to "get it off my chore list." Looking at the shambles before me, I think, "Oh me of little insight." Maybe the tree feels this human needs to "lighten up." Too much humbug in this house. She's forgotten Christmas. Let's call Timber-r-r-r... and down goes her-my hectic self."

"Tree, thank you. Getting it done lies peacefully with you on the living floor -- replaced by good cheer, merriment and warmth. Looking up I see the scatter pieces of colorful ornaments catching the lights from the manger scene -- almost beautiful in their weird shattered shapes and different positioning as am I.

A tune hums itself in my head or maybe my heart, "Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree... Shining light, silver bell, no one alive spreads cheer so well..." 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Great Mandela. We live in a fractured world. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall every hour and for the most part we feel hopeless to put it together again. Yet Nelson Mandela had the ability, the courage, the spirit to accomplish such tasks. 

"I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended." (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)