Advent 18

My mom is coming for Christmas.

It’s a seemingly simple sentence dense in power.

We are, we two, not unlike lots of moms and daughters.  We have spent the 55 years of my life clashing wills and life views.

My mother is a woman who knows with certainty what is seemly and what is not and her surety has extended to the needful state of cupboards (pristine!) and planned menus for each meal.

Her daughter?  Not so much.  For some reason my mother was presented with a girl-child who resisted blacks and whites and rebelled against imposed order.

We have lived, we two, a challenge.

I don’t know what it is about mothers and daughters.  The desire to protect, the temptation to create in our own image or the image of what we wish we had been able to able to call our own; so many things swirl beneath the surface of this elemental heart dance.

What I know is that my relationship with my mother affects my daughters and will affect their daughters.  If there is work to do, running from it robs not only me and my mom but the generations that follow.

So we have worked.  When it might have made sense to let it go and play it safe, we have engaged with each other and risked the hurt and vulnerability of letting each other know that it matters.  Our honest hearts won’t let go of each other.

My mom is coming for Christmas.  She will be in the midst of the feasting and the laughter and I know full well that she will bite back comments about how things might be better organized and I know full well that sometimes those comments will slip their way out of her mouth and into my ear.

But they don’t have to take up space in my heart.

What takes up space in my heart is profound admiration for the mighty mite that is my mom.  She has endured much, lived much, and loved much.  She has not let go of me.

Gathering for Christmas means readying our hearts.  We will mourn those absent, mark in our hearts the shifts and losses and remember years gone past when things were different.

But oh, the chance to be present to the wonder of the Word Made Flesh in our midst is stunning gift.  We get to learn what it is to love.

My mom is coming for Christmas.

Thanks be to God.

 

Advent Day 13

Sometimes it feels like this time of Advent is a bit like making Jello (which I do seldom, truth be told).

 

There is an end vision of what will be but really, who knows how the stuff will interact together?  Will it all gel?

 

I think about the ingredients that make for a fine bit of gelatinous goodness for me.

 

Dressing my house matters.  Christmas tree lights and crèche sets and the Christmas Village and the Advent calendar with the half-dog-eaten stuffed bear that moves around and ceramic angels and treasures unpacked year after year.

 

Planning feasts matters.  We’ll host both moms and four of six kids on Christmas Eve so planning the turkey dinner between worship services and imagining the Swedish Pancakes and leftovers on Christmas Day makes for happiness.

 

Choosing gift treats matters.  I love giving presents.  It may be a sickness.  It’s joy to hold beloveds in my thoughts and imagine what might delight them.

 

Planning worship matters.  Christmas Eve services resonate with power and love.  At the 4:00 family-friendly service we romp.  With kids jazzed and adorned in Christmas finery and parents delighted to have made it to the finish line, there is a zing of energy that connects us all to joy.  At the 11:00 service, the air seems to shimmer with hope and the vision of good will for all people. The notion of peace on earth feels heart-possible.

 

Love matters.  When the kids are in town they go to Cooper’s early service (married to a UM pastor, I am) and my late service.  Truly, preacher’s kids are marvels.  There is this heart valentine that blubbers me every year:  Cooper’s late service is at 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  Richfield’s is at 11:00 PM.  Following his service Cooper motors over to Richfield UMC and slides into the pew next to the kids in order to be present for worship.  Every year my heart leaps as I see him at the back of the sanctuary.  Love matters.

 

Savor matters.  Finding time to be still and open to the birth of wonder matters greatly.  At such times I remember that life is not an endurance contest but rather is invitation to miracle.  Day by day, the opportunity to allow love to grow presents itself.  Day by day, the gift is given.

 

So, what makes for wonder Jello in your Advent season of preparation?  How will you honor the desires of your heart and the finitude of your ability to do it all?  What are the spaces you make for savor to happen?

 

I pray delight for us all in this season of preparation.

 

thanks giving

Tonight is free and open and odd.

My youngest had a birthday yesterday, and my two oldest are bound out of state for Thanksgiving, so we celebrated with the bird and the hoopla on Monday night.

Which leaves tonight free, open, and odd.

I had thought I would relish having the feast and the preparation behind me, but I don’t.  One of my favorite mornings all year is Thanksgiving morning spent listening to MPR while making stuffing and all the other things that make for tradition.

For everything there is a season, this I know.

I’m full of gratitude for the Monday night festivities and for the chance to gather to celebrate the gift of Jameson to this world.  He is a tender wise sparkle of a man, and it was gift to stuff his college-student-deprived body full of food.  We had four out of six kids here, and the shine of love lingers yet.  Birthday candles matter.

So I’m not complaining; that would be obscene.

My gratitude list is so very long.

And, this night is so free, open, and odd.

So it is.