Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lost Moments

Yesterday, I had a great idea, but as usual I was in the middle of something important and didn’t take the time to write it down. I don’t remember what it was, now. It happens all the time, I will come up with a great topic when I have no time to write – inevitably I will get distracted and I will forget to write it down and it will be lost forever. I wonder how many wonderful ideas, how many incredible moments will be lost in 2010? If you have children, you’ll surely recognize this example:

“Mom! MOM! Come look!”

“Okay, in a second, I just need to finish this up.”

Two minutes later:

“Mom! Now, or you’ll miss it.”

“Right, right I’m coming.”

Two more minutes pass:


And, finally I head to where my daughter is standing.

“You missed it. The sunset was so cool; it was like God was raining light all over the hills and the skies were on fire.”

Not too many Sunday’s ago, my pastor did a teaching and he used a phrase I’d not heard before, “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good.” Only, he pointed out that we’re mostly so earthly minded we’re often no heavenly good. Those times we let slip away - the breakthrough idea, the moment of epiphany when we intrinsically understand, when our children, our husbands, our wives our loved ones beg us to join them, when God gives us a glimpse of something more than this tired old world - are the times that should be a balm to our being. More often than not, we’re so earthly bound we miss them. We’re so earthly minded we’re not even earthly good.

When I’m coming home from Leesburg, there is a view that never ceases to take my breath away and fills me with utter joy. No matter what my mood, I smile and say, “Lord, thank you for allowing me to live in one of the most beautiful places You ever created.” – unless I forget to look. I don’t forget, often – and I do have a second chance because there is another vista that fills me with the same happiness just after I pass through Hillsboro – unless I forget, again. But wait, there’s more! I’ve a third chance, when I turn down the little dirt road to my house. I’ve driven home and forgotten three times to take a moment and fill myself with joy. Who does that? Who says, “Yeah thanks but I’m good with being just ok today. I don’t need a moment of joy to brighten my life.” No one. But, even knowing it is there for the taking, I can get so caught up with earthly thoughts, the bills, the kids, the thing I forgot to pick up at the store, needing to go potty with a Sunday driver going 15 miles under the speed limit in front of me and I’m still 10 minutes away from home that I forget to take that little slice of joy that God has provided me with. If I can pass up moments I know are there for the taking, how in the world am I going to find those bonus moments?

One of my favorite Bible verses: Matthew 13:15
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.'

Jesus was talking about the people of His time, but the people of our time are not so very different. He goes on to say,

16But blessed are your eyes because they see,
and your ears because they hear.
17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and
righteous men longed to see what you see
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear
but did not hear it.

We allow our earthly problems to callous our hearts; we’re tough because the world is a tough place. Blinders limit our sight and cotton muffles our ears, because our world abounds with so much horrific evil and we don’t want to see or hear it. But, times haven’t changed – the world Jesus grew up in had equal evil. I used to wonder, why was it that these men that followed Jesus could see and hear while many prophets and righteous men could not – they obviously wanted to but could not. How could it be that those who were constantly seeking the face of God were blind to Him? Maybe they were so heavenly minded they weren’t even any heavenly good? Maybe they were just looking in the wrong places? Jesus and his apostles did not sit comfortably in well kept temples – they were in the world amid all the evil – they did not shield themselves from it.

We’re often told to stop and smell the roses. But, I don’t think it’s good enough to wait until you happen to stumble upon a rose bush along the wayside. You need to seek out a garden, or two, or four or more, and that’s a whole lot harder to do when you hobble yourself with blinders and cotton. I have gardens tucked all around me. I seek out God’s face, His hands, His breath, His smile as often as I can, and I always find Him. But, it’s those times when I’m not actively looking, those moments that often start with “MMOOOMMMMYYY!” Instead of thinking, “Good grief, what can she want now?” I go seek her out, often, that’s when He finds me and, I’m both earthly and Heavenly good, thank God.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrating Santamas

Ho, ho, hum – bah humbug. Lately, people (read adults) are having a harder and harder time getting into the Christmas spirit. And, it’s not just the economy, dummy. It’s been this way for years. I know grown men, longing for that cocaine like first high, that expectant manic feeling that slowly builds as THE DAY looms closer and closer. But, it’s not there anymore. This season I find myself asking, why. I don’t remember exactly when my enthusiasm for Christmas began to wane. It seems to have crept up on me, but I want it back.

It lasts too long
In years past, I used to groan after Halloween had passed us by, because sure enough on November 1 the isles were empty of Halloween candy and Christmas was in full force, by the time December 25th showed up on the calendar, I was burned out. That’s even truer for today; I think I saw the first Christmas displays shortly after Labor Day this year. It’s even affecting my children – my 12 year old said to me this year, “Geez, it’s not even Halloween and they have the Christmas stuff out, already.” Not long after that, the “Holiday” music started and it truly annoyed me; so much so I deleted channels from my radio presets.

The comparison game
So, what did you get for Christmas? Was Santa good to you? I dreaded those questions as a kid. “Winter” break would be over and back to school we’d trudge – and all the joy of the last two weeks drained out of my toes that day I’d board the bus. Growing up in the excessive 80’s in a fairly affluent area in a not so affluent household was tough. I didn’t get the expensive Jordache jeans, or the Papagallo purse with a dozen covers, or the polo shirts with the alligator and my button downs didn’t have a “fag tag.” My jeans were Levi’s, my purse was a knock off and I embroidered an alligator of my own – upside down, of course. I fully supported a burgeoning cause of the era, “Save an alligator, kill a preppy!” In the 80’s the line of the "haves" and "have nots" was sharply drawn; a lot like today. What I don’t remember of that time is the altruistic outpouring of help that has marked the last two years of this decade. What I do remember about the time is feeling very defensive of my parents. On Christmas morning, what they bought for me was always great – but by my classmates standards, not so much.

But, by far I think the number one reason I no longer get excited about Christmas:

The total Santafication of a Religious day
Watch TV for any amount of time and you’ll learn that the reason we give gifts to each other is to buy love. You might laugh, but seriously that’s what Madison Ave. would have you think. So much so, I abhor watching TV at the moment. The day Christians celebrate has been completely overshadowed by Santa. In the past I was amused when people would intone, “Remember the reason for the season” or “Let’s put “Christ” back in “Christmas”.” Whole communities get up in arms about displaying nativities, well folks – Christmas used to be the day Christians celebrated the birth of the greatest gift God gave the world, his Son. It’s not Santamas. We used to give gifts to one another to honor God, as a small token in remembrance of His gift to us. How is it that one of the most Holy of all Christian celebrations has become 90% secular? It’s truly depressing to see this day stolen from us; it is soul shattering to realize that over the years, Christians allowed it.

Most scholars agree that Christ wasn’t born in December, so perhaps it is time we had Christmas in July and leave Santamas to the world.