Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dispel the Long Night's Lingering Gloom

O come, O Come Thou Day-spring bright
Pour on our souls Thy healing light
Dispel the long night's lingering gloom
And pierce the shadows of the tomb

It just doesn't feel like Christmas.  I have no idea how many times I've said that over the past couple weeks, but it's a lot.  I could try to come up with why -- from the tears that well up in my eyes for the heartache of people I care about, to being so disorganized, to the weather -- but I don't know that it really matters why.  Regardless of why, I can't seem to find the Christmas Spirit and I am not ready for Christmas.  This is not good, since there are only two days between now and Christmas Day and then it will be here whether I am ready for it or not.

I keep trying to listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies and wrap Christmas gifts, but if I'm honest, the music is getting on my nerves and I've really only managed to watch two Christmas movies and I didn't get anyone a truly good gift this year.  Don't worry.  I'm not going all Grinch on my kids or anything.  They are getting some great presents and I am able to muster up excitement for them.  But when they aren't around and it's just me, I feel like it is all a ridiculous waste of time and I cannot wait for it to be over.

The things I really want can't be wrapped and put under a tree.  In fact, it's really felt lately like the things I want can't "be" at all.  No amount of asking Santa or wishing on a star or praying or petitioning can bring them about or make them possible, regardless of Christmas magic or anything else.  I want kids -- not just my kids, but all kids -- to be safe and healthy.  I want families to be able to celebrate the holidays together.  I want people to not be lonely or sad or sick. I want everyone everywhere to have what they need.  I want us to be able to resolve conflict without violence, because I don't want my kids to grow up and know all the terrible things humans do to each other when they see each other as enemies instead of brothers and sisters in Creation.  I want peace and I want life.  For everyone.

Yet, we all know the harsh reality.  Things are bad.  Things are messed up.  Certainly, there are moments of hope, those passing seconds where things seem right and hope blossoms despite all odds.  Then we remember how wrong so many things are and it is difficult to keep that hope from fading.  So often, it seems as though hope is something we once knew, but now exists only in our memories.  As Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote, "Hope in the past tense, [is] one of the saddest sounds a human being can make."  Sometimes it seems impossible to think of hope as something that still exists, as sad and horrible and pessimistic as that is to admit.

I've stated before that I'm not an optimist, yet, regardless of our beliefs, Christmas seems to call for an attempt at looking on the proverbial bright side.  This year, I can't do that on my own.  Christmas will come. Right here in my home there will be love and laughter.  I will smile and laugh and hug my family and watch gifts exchanged and I will force myself to be in the moment and enjoy it.  I will remember why we celebrate Christmas at all and I will be grateful.  I will cling to the love I have for others and the love I receive. 

But if the lingering gloom is to be dispelled, it will take more than gifts or lights or faith or love: It will take renewed hope.

Time will tell if that remains.  I hope with all my heart it does.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
- I Corinthians 13:13

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Road Home

So, poetry.  I used to write poetry all the time.  The first thing I wrote that I ever shared with anyone outside a writing class was a poem.  Would it be too cliche to spin a woeful tale about how I've somehow lost the poetry in my soul?  Probably.  But it has literally been years since I've written any poems.  I honestly don't know why, but I can feel the genre beginning to rattle around in my skull a bit.  I think I should give it a try, even if I'm so rusty that I'm unsure of where to start.  I miss it.  So here goes.....

Something about
that stretch of road
overwhelms me.
The way the fields
illuminate in the afternoon
sun is so
familiar and also
strikingly glorious.
A feeling
like homesickness
creeps in and
brings to mind carefree
summer joyrides and
treacherous winter commutes.
My mind wanders
to mostly forgotten memories
and the fragility
of life.
can happen.
on that road,
going home.
And everything,
if only for a moment,
is going to be

Friday, December 14, 2012

In Which I Resort to Profanity

(Warning:  If profanity offends you, maybe just skip this post.)

If you've met me in person and we are acquaintances, you have probably never heard me curse.  I don't curse while I'm driving, nor do I curse when I hurt myself or something surprises me.  When I'm speaking out loud, I try to find ways to express what I think without using profanity.  This isn't any kind of judgement on people who curse more than I do, it's just the way I was raised.

If you REALLY know me, however, you know that my upbringing only reaches so far.  If you've been around me when I'm overwhelmed almost to the point of speechlessness or when I'm drinking and passionately discussing an issue that is close to my heart or even when I'm totally sober and extremely worked up about something important, you've probably heard me curse.  It's not like the curse words just slip out and I can't stop them, it's that I begin to feel that no matter how decent my vocabulary, no words truly express the depth of what I'm feeling.  So I curse.  Shit happens.

When I hear about the recent mass shootings and other tragedies that take children away from their parents and siblings, I run out of words.  Words seem so completely pointless and meaningless in the face of shattered lives. With all my heart I wish that there was a way to bend reality, to undo the horrific things that have happened, to mend the families that have been changed forever.  It takes my breath away and my heart weeps and I feel overwhelmed with lament.

And then I get mad.  And I curse.

What the fuck?  Life is not supposed to be like this.  Kids should be able to sit in their classrooms or ride their bikes or commute on a school bus or walk across the street or go Christmas shopping with their mom without the stupidity, carelessness, or murderous intent of some other person snuffing out their precious lives.  For fuck's sake, what the hell?  What is wrong with people?  Yes, I get that people are broken and the world is a messed up place.  But things like this will never be okay and I will never understand.

I keep seeing people write about not blaming or not reacting rashly or not taking away rights or just praying for Jesus to come back, but really?  No amount of prayer, candlelight vigils, dedications, or memorials can ever make right the wrong that is done when the actions of another person -- intentional or otherwise -- take a child's life.  Holy shit.  There is no damn way we should be expected to simply accept that these things happen or to try to make sense of them by focusing on "the good" (as though there could ever be anything good about a child being gone or parents left behind).

Just.... no.  Fuck no.