Christmas Letters to my Lord-Part II

Where were You, Father, in this annual Christmas celebration? I ask this knowing You haven’t gone anywhere, but knowing also that keeping pace with all my various deadlines (how apropos is this word in this context?) made feeling Your presence a challenge. Amongst all the merriment and the bounty of this season, where were You, Lord?

Did I ever take the time, make the effort to feel Your gifts of joy and truth and love? Did I allow my senses to soar? To be overwhelmed by Your love? I know it is always flowing forth for me, if only I pay attention. Yet, can I be overwhelmed now, after the fact? Can one’s spirit soar in retrospect?

So often we see Your footprints, understand Your lessons, only after our time with You has passed. Where were You this Christmas, Father? How did You bless me in Your passage, for I know with certainty that You have done so. And did I greet You during this time? Was I hospitable? Or did I shut You out, not wanting to take the time to pause from the flurry of my ‘keeping up.’ Was I too lazy to take time for You or one of Yours? Was I too used up from all my other busy-ness?

The Bell Ringer

There was that bell ringer outside the grocery store. Actually multiple bell ringers seemed ever-present this year, offering near-continual opportunities to share joy and goodwill with others of Your children. Only once though did I retrace my steps to the car to get cash for the red bucket. More often, I just covered my guilty laziness with a ‘Merry Christmas,’ passing them with smile.

Saying it like this makes my laziness seems all the more cold-hearted and contemptible.

Can these chances for exchanging goodwill and joy be replaced by later writing a check, even in an amount greater than what might otherwise have been dropped in the bucket? If I get up right this minute to write a check to the Salvation Army, will that gift – free of the joyful human exchange with our local bell ringers, free of the ‘thank you’ that I feel so unworthy to receive – will it be as worthy in Your eyes? Have I accepted thanks as graciously as I’ve offered forgiveness?

You were there all the time

On the other hand, You and I had a couple of good conversations. We chatted as we drove along in the car, running errands. In all the chaos of this season, You blessed me with Your presence along side of me. You allowed the strength of Your spirit to replenish me and prepare me for another day. More often than not, You also freed up parking spots, helped move traffic along, and reminded me to pause and take a beat when an elderly or homeless person was slowing my progress.

You were there for it all, Father, carrying me…or sending others to carry me…when I became too weary to continue on alone. Thank You, Lord.

Knitting our family back together

You were with us as we exchanged Christmas gifts, all possible only from Your bounty. When lessons of forgiveness and bonds of love within our family were reinforced, braided again and again with ever strengthening ties binding us to one another with You as our center, You were there.

Your gaze was there in our son’s eyes as he and I shared lessons from Brother Lawrence. You were in our daughter’s joy-filled voice as she nearly trembled with the excitement of beginning her life anew, ordered by Your will. And Your grace is reflected over and over in our other daughter’s nearly-constant demonstration of Your caring love for everyone in her life – parents, siblings, partner, employees, shop owners, and the poor and homeless in her life.

What a gift You’ve blessed us with to be able to watch our children find their way to You and Your way for their lives.

We CAN soar in retrospect

I am awestruck, nearly breathless as I write this. I realize only now that You’ve answered long-prayed prayers of mine for our family’s faith and unity and it’s finally happening! Our children are finding You and in finding You, they are reconnecting slowly but surely with one another. Thank You, Lord, for this answered prayer. As we grow stronger in our ability to say Yes to You, we cannot but be strengthened in our ability to reach out to our family with the same joy-filled Yes.

Also read Christmas Letters To God-Part I, and in days to come Part III, and Part IV.

Christmas Letters to My Lord – Part I

In this particularly disoriented, discombobulated fourth quarter of 2013, when members of my little family underwent various surgeries and water damage from an upstairs neighbor required we decamp our home for 10 weeks awaiting its repair and restoration, life has been lived in unfamiliar and changing circumstances. Unusual numbers of unfamiliar people and obligations and issues needed immediate tending – insurance adjustors, claims agents, contractors, workpeople – all required my attention in order that their good work could begin to put our Humpty Dumpty life back together again.

Testing can perfect and strengthen

It was not a bad experience…trying, stressful, disorienting, exhausting…but through it all I was offered repeated opportunities to show my love for You, to have it tested. Did I do okay, Father? Was my behavior worthy of Your love? Show me, Father, over the coming months how I could have loved you better.

Graciousness and neighborliness were mightily tested. These two qualities were ones I feared were gone for good after several recent years of a prolonged and deep sense of alienation with my community and with several family members. Only through Your grace has my optimism and joy been restored.

When I was called upon to forgive and to help our neighbor to forgive herself for the unintended mistake that led to our 10-week water-damage disruption, I found I was completely void of any resentment towards her. I genuinely appreciated her generous spirit in the wake of our shared challenges.

Thank You, Father, for this grace, for any good that comes through me, comes from You. And yet, there was certainly more I could have done. Guide me, Father, to better ways.

Patience and support of my husband’s passion for music and musical performance were also tested. He added to his already busy schedule (that includes a full-time job), several weeks of daily obligations in order to participate in the pit-orchestra for a community musical production.

I love that he is able to contribute to our community in this way. It is valued by many and valuable to his own sense of well-being. The icing for him was being able to perform with our son, who played lead guitar for the production. And I have been proud to be able to tell people of both their involvement.

Still, his schedule sometimes wore me out. Rehearsals were followed immediately by nine performances that ran up to the last Sunday before Christmas. With just hours, to go, we plunged directly into to multiple Christmas celebrations with various branches of our family. I know I could have been more gracious as I anticipated his absences and the time constraints they placed on our lives.

Blessedly, I found that all those times he was rehearsing or performing allowed me time to re-center, re-focus on You. We actually thrived in many ways, as a result, didn’t we, Father?

Help me to lean on You more, to trust You better, so that my patience and support of others may grow.

The days to come, read Christmas Letters To God-Part II, Part III, and Part IV.