Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leaping into the new

Did you know we are having a “leap second” on New Year’s Eve 2008?

I’m not sure it’s going to make the last few hours of the year and all its deadlines any easier, but I vote we jump on the anomaly and take sort of a Sadie Hawkin’s approach to New Year’s Resolutions. You know, turn everything upside down and inside out, like having the girls invite the boys to the dance.

I’ll offer my own not-your-mother’s list of resolutions:

1) I will not promise to meet every deadline someone waves in my face like a red cape in front of a bull.
2) At the end of every day I will try to remember to think about at least one thing I did right instead of all the things I could have done better.
3) I will try to make enough space in my life to let friends, and maybe even strangers, help me from time to time.
4) I’ll stop worrying that the housekeeping police are going to discover what God already knows – that I am not a neat and tidy person.

But the biggest trick of all will be remembering on bad days and good that I am In and beloved by God, list or no list.

That Christmas Star still shines. Maybe this is the year we will let it light our path all year to getting out of our own way and being more than we ever thought we could be.

Blessings to all of you and yours for a wonderful and unexpected 2009 . . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Starlight in a midwinter sky

Latitude: 31° 42', North. Longitude: 35° 12', East ... Bethlehem

Latitude: 34°North, Longitude: 118° West . . . . Los Angeles

Imagine this: Long nights where life is sunshine oriented; sudden cold in a desert that doesn’t usually get cold; way too much to do to get ready for a season of travel; and not enough money to make any of it any easier.

Kind of depressing, isn't it? Sounds a little like the weeks a lot of us are living through right now.

But imagine the whole thing with no electricity – no city lights, no holiday trees or decorations, no cause for cheer. Just the deep, dark bleak midwinter.

And suddenly, for no apparent reason, a huge bright light in the nighttime sky. What, oh what, could this mean? An omen for yet another disaster? More dead? More unemployed? Imagine the sheer terror of this pervasive uncontrollable thing that no one could really understand. . . .

A brave few believed the angels they thought they heard, telling them the light was a star of hope. And they ventured on their way to find a baby boy – nothing but a little baby. No proof this child could or would do a thing for them . . . . just faith in the voices they thought they heard and the sights they thought they saw.

And these faithful brought gifts – their music, bits of their spices, their love. And look at how well things turned out, for them and for us.

As we share our music, our spices, and our love in these short, dark, and dreary days, let’s relish every minute of the party we are invited to share now and throughout the year to come. No cold, no rain can dampen the joy of the gift we are all given with the birth of this Baby Boy.

Party hardy and wonder at the abiding warmth!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thanks, Penelope

For putting this up for all to enjoy. And I whole-heartedly back your good wishes for everyone this holiday season. We throw around a phrase - "Happy Holidays". Here's a little thought; What could you do for yourself that would make today a Happy Holiday? I just added whipped cream to my Peppermint Mocha Twist! I am feeling the cheer NOW, I tell ya! Hope you can do the same.

See you Sunday.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The holy wholly holey mess of humanity

One of my favorite movies is The Philadelphia Story and my favorite line in it is Katherine Hepburn’s: “I am such an unholy mess of a girl.” It’s a breakthrough moment for a woman who has spent all of her life aspiring to perfection only to fail at being a human being.

I think of that moment so often during our Sundays together. Jimmy and Quinton remind us over and over again, in one way or another, that we have to accept – maybe even luxuriate in – our imperfection and incompleteness. It is what makes us human, what bring us together. Some argue it is the source of the greatest of human achievements.

But right now, in this season of so much stress for the world, and so much desire to make things the best they can possibly be for our family and friends, it’s all too easy to be exhausted by all that is less than perfect.

I plead guilty as charged: at this season I feel like a hamster on the proverbial wheel, covered as it may be by garland and tinsel. Every meeting has too many words; every task takes too long; every list seems to have a new item every time I look at the paper it’s written on. I am such an unholy mess of a girl – but I’ll bet I look and sound a lot more like the Mad Hatter than I do like Katherine Hepburn!

So I think maybe now is a good time to make some Old Year’s Resolutions. For example, maybe it would be good to try to do simple things like taking time actually to taste one of the holiday treats everyone has put out to share with friends and neighbors, or stopping to listen to one really good song of the season. Whatever it takes to remember the best of the season and not be overwhelmed by the worst.

And to remember as well how blessed we all are to have found ourselves in a community where we understand it is our imperfection that make us human and interesting and fun. Where, as someone said at the wonderful Thunderado party Sunday night at Ford’s Filling Station, “Sassy is a very good thing.”

Whatever your schedule brings for the rest of the year, here’s wishing you a very excellent Christmas and a very sassy New Year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The joy of noise

TE4-6274: my first phone. Well, my parents’ phone when I first remember having a phone – and I am told that I made it mine pretty much all afternoon, every afternoon. I would sit in the high-back chair in the living room corner with my little feet turned up at the edge of the seat, with the clunky black rotary phone on my lap. Talking to Mrs. McGuillacutty, my very best (imaginary) friend.

I grew up in a household of talkers. So much so that the nurse at the school where I went to junior high once sent my mother into gales of mirth by saying to her that “Mr. Roeder must be very quiet,” thinking that there must not be much room for him to be heard among the Roeders she knew. Mr. Roeder wasn’t at all quiet: he was a Federal Prosecutor with a courtroom-loud voice and a lot of opinions.

As you might guess, I made Mrs. McGuillacutty’s acquaintance because I did NOT live in a household of listeners. . . . . and, like most of us, I really needed to be heard.

Mrs. McGuillacutty did her job well, and I learned to frame and communicate my very best 4-year-old ideas, and not to be afraid to speak them. But she didn’t provide me much perspective: She didn’t offer me her own ideas or ask me tough questions. Living amongst talkers, I did figure out that those other ideas existed; but I didn’t know how to fit them together with mine.

And this is why I so cherish being a part of a community of talkers: nothing forces me to pick up an idea and turn it over, to examine it from another perspective, in quite the way running headlong into somebody else’s idea about the same thing or a related thing does.

I love listening to y’all; as Jimmy said Sunday, whether I agree with you or not. I try to listen to God, too. But the older I get the more profoundly I suspect it’s often God speaking through y’all, and the best worship I can do is to listen seriously and deeply. Even when I don’t agree.

Maybe mostly when I don’t agree.

Speak up. Speak out. Your voices are the moisture and warmth I need to make my bread rise . . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One foot in front of the other

Perhaps some of you have noticed: I'm a bit of an action junkie. Not a high-speed adrenaline type action junkie, but a when-the-going-gets-tough-find-something-to-do type junkie. What’s this about? I’m not sure I’ll ever ferret out the existential “why,” but I thought I'd share some of what I have figured out:

1) Making little goals that I can accomplish feels much better than wallowing in my inability to accomplish something else.

2) Focusing my energy on something I can do keeps me from fussing about what I can’t.

3) Not spending energy on fussing leaves me open to recognize when a better response to the original thing comes along . . . .

I sometimes think we don’t walk enough. Not because of the health benefits, though they are surely valuable, but because it’s the best way I know to remember that most things progress one step at a time.

When we are doing things that don’t have such clearly delineated “steps,” I think we forget and think that the problem lies in the giant leap we are failing to make.

Such leaps happen, but not very often – and even then, understanding what they mean and what to do with, or about, them may take centuries: Newton had his apple but it took the Wright Brothers to learn to fly!

Walking the Labyrinth is a wonderful exercise . . . . It’s the longest possible path from point A to point B, and when you can slow yourself down to do it really one step at a time, it is also wonderfully meditative.

A lot, I think, like life – and probably even faith.