Monday, December 10, 2007

appearance

I’m just coming up for air. As of this morning I’m half way through my observation of the season and it’s time for another breath. Starbucks is a bit disappointing today, although I’d still highly recommend the apple fritter. The fireplace isn’t on. I can’t think of too many things this time of year more disappointing than a fireplace that isn’t putting out some sort of warmth and ambience. Especially when all one has to do these days is flip a switch. I briefly considered a stay at home in front of my own fireplace before succumbing to better quality coffee and an assumption of flames.
A few haven’t seemed to notice. There’s a star struck couple bundled up in front of it, apparently oblivious to its inability to expend any heat. Maybe that’s why they’re seemingly content to generate their own. Don’t get me wrong…I appreciate their resourcefulness probably more than most. It just makes it a bit more difficult to concentrate on my fritter.
Today is the point where I’ll need to shift gears to make a final drive towards the grand birthday party on the evening of the 24th. Right now I’m still idling in neutral gathering my thoughts from the first half of the journey. So far it’s been quite eventful. Beginning with a turkey to fuel the early days, I’ve experienced shopping wars, a wedding on top of the Space Needle, two seasonal theatre performances, two children’s birthday parties, an elementary Christmas musical, 26 adorable African children, snow, wind, and floods. And so this is half way. It’s time for a breath.
The first part of this seasonal journey is what I like to refer to as “survival”. These things all help to create a sense of joy if paced correctly. Believe it or not, I think that my wife and I did fairly well with the first half. This second half is more aptly called “observation”. We’ll slow down. We’ll rest a bit and take time to wonder and appreciate and recharge. I think that this is probably the reason why things like non- functioning fireplaces are so disappointing. I don’t have time for illusions right now. These times like my Monday relationship with my lap top need to be sources of rest. Fireplaces in cold places can help do that for me.
There are more than enough distractions and things not as they seem during this seasonal time of “peace”. I believe that it’s part of the grander cosmic spiritual battle that rages throughout our culture. Distraction with false hope I mean. Each morning I soberly watch the talking heads on the news try to make a direct link between economics and Christmas success. Weekly I read about another manger – menorah war that sinks into ridiculousness. I’ve spent too much time in the study of Christmas as it really happened in the Book of Books to be able to see any such correlation or conflict. Joseph and Mary had no idea that the birth of their baby would determine the success of American retailers. The shepherds had no idea that their visit might offend some in the ACLU.
We could easily succeed in entirely distorting the entire original meaning of the season if not for one outstanding variable. We still get to choose. I have the choice to stop and take a breath. I can focus myself on observing the reality and conveying meaning rather than adding to false appearances. Try something radical as we head down the stretch. Share joy. Observe peace. If all else fails, stop long enough to yield your place in line during your tour of duty in the shopping wars. For a moment in time, God yielded to our need on a dark night in Bethlehem. I’m sure that we could manage the same for someone else in Wal-Mart.

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