Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: December 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Greatest Gifts of All

I am writing you from smack in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. There is at least a foot of snow outside and majestic mountains just beyond the reach of my outstretched fingers. To say we are surrounded by beauty cannot relay to you the wonder of being enclosed in majesty. But as much as I treasure that joy of God's natural creativity, I enjoy the gifts inside our cabin even more. There is Gil who is washing the lunch dishes, Melody who is rummaging through her backpack, and Amy in the next room taking a nap under her pink Hello Kitty Christmas quilt. Then I also think of Donna paddling in the water beside me, laughing between strokes, both of us surrounded by the outrageous and slightly demented women on our dragon boat racing team, the Angry Unicorns, who are usually not angry at all, just weird. There is Deborah conducting her Christmas concert in the grandest theater in town, Christine singing the soprano descant which gives me a heavy case of the giggles her voice is so beautiful, and Sue and Bob in the next town over who are so down-to-earth and loving, joy wells up in me whenever I see them for I know I'm in for a good talk with amazingly real people.

As a child, I loved Christmas, partly, maybe even mostly, for the gifts.  Not much has changed. I still love the gifts but what those gifts are has drastically changed. Instead of something I can open, these gifts open me-- to a wider world, to deeper thoughts, to greater love, and truer joy. These gifts move without batteries (though coffee helps for some), and you never know what they are going to say (there is no prerecording unless you call their voicemail). Without a remote control, they walk into the room and without turning a single switch, they light up my face with a smile.

These are the best gifts of all, people to love who love me back and as we move through Advent, waiting for Jesus, the greatest gift, I am thanking our God for all these other gifts of mine that light up my world like Christmas lights in the night, while waiting for the dawn.

Labels: ,

Tis the Season

Christmas... I wonder what emotions that word brings up for you? Are you filled with joy? Tears? Wonder? Stress? Perhaps all four?

One of the classic pictures of Christmas for me is people visiting each other, perhaps sharing cookies and a cup of hot chocolate. But in recent years, it seems this tradition has been largely left behind. You might have a friend you would like to visit with but when you ask them if they could get together, they tell you, "Oh, I'm so busy right now. Let me get through the holidays and then I'll have some time." (But you know they never will)

First, let me point out their use of the phrase, "get through the holidays." Now, for some people, holidays are a very difficult time emotionally and it is hard for them to find a smile. But for many of us, we tend to dive so deeply into Christmas shopping and preparing for a holiday party with friends or time with family, that we don't actually spend any time with friends or family. It's as if we spend the whole time in the kitchen but never at the table. And in doing so, we completely miss the point of the holidays. So what if your house isn't clean? What does it matter? Why can't you stop and see a friend, perhaps the one for whom Christmas is a hard time of year, and bring the greatest gift of companionship?

Jesus came to be with us. That is why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the presence of God with us, yet when it comes to this time of year, celebrating each other's presences is the last thing we do. It frustrates me greatly that during this time of year dedicated to being with one another, we are too busy to actually do it. Our priorities our all wrong. We put the emphasis on the things we think are the gifts (the stuff) and not on the gifts that have atually been given (each other). I am pleading with you to not tell someone you are too busy this season to see them. The holidays are not for getting through. Perhaps it's in this way, a bad economy is a blessing. We don't have the money to go out and buy expensive gifts or expensive excursions but we have time to go for walks, to play games, to talk, and perhaps to bake, together.

Ask yourself, what is Christmas all about if not companionship and relationship? Look at a nativity set. Is there a cash register anywhere around? A mop? Is there grumpy people walking around a mall? Nope. And there never will be. What they have is each other. If this is what we are celebrating, shouldn't we make time for the Jesus in each other?

Labels: , ,