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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Miracles and More

Looking back over the past week I find that I had one of those years where I just never really "felt" Christmas.  I had the isolated moments - during the sing-along at the Missouri State University holiday concert (because outside of church where do you ever experience large audiences of people, strangers, join in song?) and the grand finale with the Pride Marching Band; placing the pieces, especially the last few as the day drew nigh, on the nativity calendar; having that private fireside supper with my husband; watching Ethan open presents (the first time I've ever had a little one around to buy for); hearing Welcome to Our World and Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel on the radio; listening to Dustin and Jim sing Strange Way to Save the World during our candlelight Christmas Eve service; and being surrounded by family and friends those couple of days.  I guess I just always wish that the feeling of Christmas would be strong and lasting.  Then, I suppose everyone wishes that, otherwise there wouldn't be so many songs and poems and stories that lament the passing of the goodwill of the season. 

Still, I had some great times and experienced a Christmas miracle, too:  Natalie, who you know will not have anything at all to do with anyone except Bruce and me, gave up her barking from the top of the stairs on Christmas Eve and ventured down into a house filled with a dozen plus people.  Granted, she sat in my lap and wouldn't let anyone come near her, but she did come down.  We have had Natalie in our home since mid-July and this was the first time she'd offered to be in the same room with anyone other than us.  Like I said, a Christmas miracle.

I also received an unexpected surprise earlier that day when FedEx knocked on my door and I opened a package from Robinson, Texas - a dvd of Mr. Kruegger's Christmas - sent especially to me from a dear, dear friend.  Shirley and I met when I lived in Abilene for six months during my seventh grade year.  She was a year ahead of me and we became friends at Abilene Christian.  The day my mother picked me up from school and told me we were moving back to Springfield it was time for Christmas Break.  Most of my classmates had already gone home, but Shirley was there with me.  She gave me her address and when I got back to Springfield I wrote her.  Shirley and I kept up a letter-writing friendship (pre-email, mind you) from that day on.  Our letters may have become more infrequent in our adult lives, but we do stay in touch (now through email).  Ours is the only friendship I know of that has survived thirty years of long-distance.  In that time I believe I have seen Shirley in person only twice.  Anyway, I was so surprised and so touched that she would do that!  Bruce and I watched it Christmas Eve after everyone went home and it was just as I remembered it.  Thanks, Shirley, for the gift, but mostly for the gift of your friendship.

The tree is down and the living room rearranged (because I usually have to do something like that over Christmas Break - also we have very tidy looking kitchen cupboards as of yesterday afternoon).  I've got a new Sting cd to listen to (the one with the letters and poems and lute - it's really beautiful).  I've got a new Bible to read from for personal devotions.  And, I've got a headful of ideas about what I'd like to emphasize and deemphasize in my life during the new year.  I would like to actually DO something about the new knowledge I've gained recently about human trafficking and the modern abolitionist movement.  I don't really know what that will be, but I think it has to start the same way my vegetarianism did - with a commitment to personally guard against being a financier of slavery.  Money talks.  If I can withhold my dollars from benefiting those who would abuse animals, then certainly I must withhold them from those who abuse human beings through physical bonds and through the emotional bonds of intimidation.  It's horrifying to read about, but being willfully ignorant is not an option.  Should I decline to feel sorrow and outrage for the sake of my own comfort when there are actual people - men, women and children of all ages in this world - being held in captivity?  No, I believe I should both feel and act.

That's what the New Year is all about, isn't it?  Reflection and resolve?  Not resolutions necessarily, though they have their place; rather a healthy acknowledgement that we are unwise in certain areas and a humble determination to be enlightened for the sake of love.  Christ gave Himself a ransom for me.  He compels me to do the same for others.  To live is Christ.  Let your light so shine before men.  Have a blessed 2010 and let Him will and work in you.


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