Advent 2010

It’s already into the 3rd week of Advent, and I’ve not posted a thing. I’ve not settled enough at one level. But in other ways, I am very much into Advent.

I read on various blogs and other places about how we are awaiting something/someone much more developed than the Infant Jesus. And, this is true. However, for me, this year Advent seems focused on the infant and the child.

I have 3 granddaughters, aged 4 years, 2 years and 7 months. They are a source of great joy to me.  And, a bit of a reminder of Advent. The baby, Genevieve, helps me to understand this expectation and hope the most (just as her cousins did 2 and 4 years ago.) I spent last week with her. Every day she becomes a bit more of herself. She explores her world. She would light up when her daddy called from Europe. She tried twelve ways to never to figure out how one gets oneself from prone or supine to sitting. She smiled, she laughed, she cried. By being there, I got to know her better. I had the chance to begin to see the little person she is becoming.

It’s rather that way with the Infant Jesus and Christmas and God the Father. You start with that infant. You put your hope in Him. You stay close and learn who he is becoming — especially who he is becoming in your own life. If you spend the time being close, you will experience the smiles, the laughter, the love, the tears. Therefore, I will stick with my images of a baby in a manger, of a new family making its way in this world, learning to trust and growing together. I am comfortable with the idea of starting at the beginning once again and walking the way once more. Maybe this segment of the journey I will learn a bit more how to trust and love and just be on the journey without understanding the map.

Oh — and, I’ll understand that you don’t always get to see the results first hand. Baby Genevieve finally pushed herself up to sitting only a few hours after I left.

How We See Them

I have a favorite commercial right — I think is a Subaru commercial. I’m more sure it is a car company commercial.

The scene is the father leaning into the window of the parked car, saying things like: “Buckle your seat belt.” and “Are your mirrors adjusted?” The focus shifts to a young girl (maybe 7 or 8 years old) sitting in the driver’s seat, smiling at daddy, but looking a bit like she already knows all this, or knows it all. Back to dad saying “Call when you get there, but don’t use the phone while you are driving” — and then you see that she’s not a youngster, but a teenager — far more grown up than Daddy sees her.

It’s so true. Yesterday I went to my neighbor’s daughter’s wedding. Emily is a lovely young woman — a college graduate. A grown-up. The ceremony was lovely and Christ centered. But, I still see that toddler. I still see the 6 year old at my door asking if I want to buy Girl Scout cookies. Just as I often think of my own children as laughing toddlers or little ones struggling to swim all the way across the pool. I still see them running through the house with baby hooded bath towels streaming behind them like superman capes. Never mind that they are all married, home owners and 2 of the 3 have children.

I wonder – does God see that child in me? I suspect God sees through all of the grown-up trappings I put on right into the child that was fascinated by watching a cat give birth to kittens — the child who fell off the porch into a forsythia bush and was terrified by the event. And that is good.

Jesus told us that to we must become as little children to come to God. I hope I can still remember what it means to be that little child myself.

Sixties on Six

We’ve been travelling and taking advantage of the XM radio available in my car by listening to XM 6 — which is all 60’s music.

I was a preteen and young teenage in the 60’s — I was a bit young to take off for Woodstock, but not too young to revel in it. The first song I learned to play on a stringed instrument was “Charlie and the MTA” by the Kingston Trio. I loved (and still do) Peter, Paul and Mary, the Beatles, the Monkees, Buffalo Springfield, Donovan…

As I listened all the way up the interstate I was struck by a certain innocence in the revolution of the 60’s. There was conflict. There was an outright throwing over of the values of the previous generation. But, as misguided as parts of that revolution might have turned out, there was a real optimism. There seemed to be a real belief that there truly is a new world to be experienced.

I sat and sank into the Seekers singing “I’ll Never Find Another You”

There’s a new world somewhere
They call The Promised Land
And I’ll be there some day
If you will hold my hand
I still need you there beside me
No matter what I do
For I know I’ll never find another you

There is a sense of hope that I find missing today. It seems that if there is a revolution today, it smacks more of the Taliban and rules and negative results. This generation is faced with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, multiple wars (instead of just Viet Nam) and they don’t appear to be nearly as optimistic that these obstacles can be creatively overcome.

To have hope, it seems that one needs to believe that there is a Promised Land and someone to hold on to on the journey to that Promised Land. There is a need to believe that the Promised Land can be here and now or is here and now and can impact us on our Journey. There is a need to understand that the most important component of the journey is not the material treasure, but the love of the the Companion (in my case, the love of Jesus who takes my hand and is The Way).

I hope that some of the optimism of the 60’s will invade the current generation and lead them to joy.

Ground Hog Day

I haven’t checked to see if TNT or TBS is running the movie “Ground Hog Day” 24×7 – or until we get it right – but this is the day. It’s halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It’s the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, as well. In the movie, the day repeats over and over – trying to get things right. In the church, the prescriptions of the Law are fulfilled, and Simeon is at peace because he has seen the Messiah, and knows that everything is right.

And, here at my desk, I try to sit and understand how it all fits together. On a rainy, overcast February morning, in this time halfway between the dark of winter and the promise of spring, I am given the knowledge that even while I see indistinctly in the mirror, all is well.  Isn’t that so much of life? While we watch for Pauxatawny (sp?) Phil to predict the time of the coming of spring, we still know that spring is coming… life, buried underground will sprout and grow.

I will sit in this time between dark and light and know that deep within God reminds me of the words that so often put things into perspective: All shall be well; All manner of things shall be well.

What’s next?

I’m retiring — well, I retiring from my “day job” at Auburn. Not happening until the first of April, but it seems it’s happening. It is not lost on my friends that my first day as a retiree will be April Fool’s Day (and I have an 8 am dentist appointment, to boot.)

The questions begin: “What are you going to do?”

I have lots of answers ready at hand. I’m going to be able to go to the gym in the mornings! At 8, which might happen, instead of 5:30am,  which is not happening. I’ll be able to head up the road to Birmingham to visit more often — this is important since the 3rd grandchild is scheduled to make his/her appearance in Birmingham the first of June. I’m planning on having more energy available for my second and third jobs — mostly web development for the Vincentian Family and anybody else who would like to compensate me for the work. I’d like to actually learn to speak and understand Spanish, make the Pilgrimage to San Juan Compostela, hike parts of the Appalachian trail, spend time with my granddaughters in Florida (and go the zoo – I love zoos!), make some quilts and visit my friends in NY.

Plans! We all have them. It remains to be seen how many of these will come to pass. Mostly, I hope to live well, grow in faith and appreciate the life I have.

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