Jesus Is Come

Prepare

Jesus is come.

I saw her even before the season began

In the folksy yellow blossoms of a tulip gift.

 

Jesus is come.

I opened Skype one morning and there she was—

Struggling with grad school overload, hanging in.

 

Jesus is come.

He grinned at me, needing front teeth for Christmas:

The rest tarred and tangled. But how he grinned!

 

Jesus sang “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” with gusto if not with pitch,

And moments later swayed and gentled to “Silent Night.”

 

His child’s expectancy belied the violence that landed him in shelter;

Her shy teen smiled reached me behind locked gates.

 

Jesus sparked from yards seen from outer space

And pulled me close to feel His heart when the nightmares came.

 

I buttered her toast as she headed off to the work of need;

She paints magic to recoup.

 

Like me, Jesus has to eat, find shelter, balance work and refreshment.

 

I expect Jesus’ coming,

I open eyes wide,

strain ears for the sound of a distant motor,

sniff for change in the air.

 

I wait.

I am met.

 

But…no.

I’m not ready.

My house is a wreck.

I’m way too tired.

My relationships—muddled.

 

But Jesus is come

On the insistent dawn of this Christmas morn.

 

And I sit in mismatched jammies

Eyes wide, ears straining,

aching to touch the deep magic.

 

Jesus is come.

 

Here I am…

 

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Tinsel & Term Limits

6-nity

I’m a few weeks into this 6-nity business (living into my 6th decade with humor and dignity). And I have to say it’s no big deal. Recently a friend grew apoplectic over the prospect of turning 58. “Ain’t no big thing,” I told her. And meant it. Like a reverse Advent, the anticipation is far worse than the reality.

I wonder what all the fuss is about. Actually, I’m pretty sure I know: we’re a death denying society. That’s why we spread make-up and hair gel on death, then bundle it into expensive packages which allow us to delude ourselves into forgetting that what no longer breathes decomposes.

Older people remind us that our lives have term limits that are not of our choice.

Why else would we reduce older persons to a set of embarrassing, age-related symptoms, treat them as pets, or tuck them quietly away (out of sight…)? Such practices insult persons who have earned the gravitas of years. And it harms those who perpetrate such practices. Such souls are rendered shallow; nothing deep can take root there.

Personally, I refuse delivery of such practices. Instead, I seek to live every day God gives me: to do what I can to make the world a better place. I will work, I will laugh, I will hope, I will love. To celebrate every second my heart beats and my brain fires.

***

The other day I met a septuagenarian. He’d wrapped his walking cane in tinsel and twinkling holiday lights.

“I love your cane,” I said.

“Tis the season,” he smiled.

 You are my role model for the next decade, I decided.

Holiday Justice

Small Justices

“It’s not fair!” wails the child.

“Life’s not fair,” counters the adult—a response that, while accurate, I find wholly unsatisfying. At my core I know life should be fair. Children know it, too. And saying “life’s not fair”—that’s just restating the problem.

This holiday season, and in the coming year, I hope to act for justice. Why the holidays? On reflection, I realized that Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa each respond to an injustice. Celebrants choose meet injustice with creativity, community, and hope: to be what they hope the world will become. How might we live out that kind of hope inside the holiday hectics? Some possibilities include:

  1. Taking Our Turn: We choose not to muscle our way into traffic, whether it be on the road or in the store;
  2. We Respect Ourselves: Enough to treat others with respect, even when we are disrespected. That may mean holding our tongue or it may mean holding someone accountable;
  3. Paying a Fair Price: We support fair trade businesses and give servers generous trips;
  4. Practicing Equality: That server? As important as any CEO, film star, sports hero, or president. Everyone has a story. Everybody matters;
  5. Giving Mercy: Parenting taught me that, while a practice of justice in the home is vital to raising children of character, sometimes mercy is needed. My children needed mercy from me and I from them. Mercy taught us we were more than our failings. I am not condoning a practice of mercy that allows a system of violence to continue unimpeded. I am speaking of acting in love: sometimes that’s being just, other times it’s being merciful.

This holiday season, we can seek to practice the justice we hope for all persons.

How do you respond to injustice? What are your hopes this holiday season for a fair and loving world?

6-nity

6-nity

Okay. Here goes. Last week my odometer moved from 59 to 60.

Gone are the days when I pronounced my 7- ¾-year status to anyone who would listen: when I divided the year into quarters in anticipation of the next milestone. Why the change?

It would seem I’ve moved from “deep in the action” to “yesterday’s news.” It’s hard to resist the message that aging is shameful. It must be or we’d feel no need for anti-aging creams, face lifts, or sitcoms stereotyping older people as addle-headed. Hilarious.

Thing is, I’m not yesterday’s news. So I will move deep into life with 6-nity: a dignity that accepts myself and my years. How? By

  1. Staying Thirsty: with so many books to read, concerts to attend, lectures to hear, and people of differing perceptions to know, I’d best get busy. I’ll stay thirsty, my friend.
  2. Contributing: My worry on my 60th birthday—Would the people I serve think I’m no longer up for the task? Instead, they celebrated my birthday with full and eager hearts. With so much need in the world and with so much to give, I’ll roll up my sleeves.
  3. Staying Fit: I spend more time these days caring for my body, but that attention allows me to do the things I really care about. I’ll exercise, eat prudently, get adequate rest, and take those pesky calcium pills.
  4. Keeping It Real: Aging isn’t for sissies. I wept all over my first pair of bifocals. Ditto with the trifocals. I can’t deny my need for serious visual aids. I’ll seek to see as clearly other truths about myself and my age. Delusions can make me blind in other, more destructive ways; I’ll keep a sharp eye.
  5. Laughing: It’s a balancing act—maintaining humor enough to avoid what Berk Breathed termed “offensensitivity” and maintaining enough self-respect to avoid casting myself as a buffoon. I’ll not take myself too seriously, but I’ll take myself seriously enough.
  6. Building Soul Muscle: My body has term limits, but my soul’s in it for eternity.I’ll maintain spiritual practices that muscle my soul for adventures to come.
  7. Loving: God, others, creation, self. In loving, I create a powerful good that far outdistances my physical life. Those capable of loving are deep in the action. I’ll keep on loving.

I will die. But right now I am alive & I will live 6-nity with humor, love, and dignity. I hope the same for you, whatever your age.