The Light of Christmas

“[T]he light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

“When we do this, I know Christmas has begun,” my granddaughter says after packing boxes for soldiers.
She and her cousin are my helpers in this yearly task. Gifts and donations loaded into cardboard. Home-baked sweets for troops, many serving we know not where.  A box to light, and lighten, Christmas in dark places.
The night before, the cousin and I set up my nativity–porcelain figurines with a light glowing behind a suspended angel.
At church, a child lights the first purple candle of Advent. I light one at home.
The first candleflicker of Christmas. Little lights for darkening days. Continue reading “The Light of Christmas”

Returning a Favor

Family around the table. It’s what happens on holidays.
This Thanksgiving, we sit around a new table. With it, we got an unexpected blessing–and bestowed a blessing too.
When I moved into my home in 1977, I salvaged an old table my father was discarding. Years into its second life, one of its legs began to wobble. Without warning, it would collapse to the floor leaving the other three legs to do all the work.
And we would laugh. But after awhile, one of us did not find the falling leg so funny. Continue reading “Returning a Favor”

Bread, Salt, Wine: Food, Flavor, Joy

“Bread, so that this house may never know hunger. Salt, that life may always have flavor. . . Wine that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”
In the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George and Mary Bailey offer the housewarming gifts of bread, salt, and wine to the Martini family. A large family, the Martinis are able to purchase their own home because of the friendly business dealings of George Bailey.
George is the reluctant head of a wobbly savings and loan and spends his days in a “shabby little office” thinking his life has had no value. Those who have been the recipients of George’s generosity know better. At the end, George comes to see the magnitude of his wonderful life.
As a single mother of five, I was frequently the recipient of bread that came from the generous hands of others. A few decades ago, we were on our own. Some of our days were lean. Some of them, even dreadful. But many of our memories from those days reflect the bread, salt, and wine of well-flavored life. Continue reading “Bread, Salt, Wine: Food, Flavor, Joy”

Giving Ourselves in the Giving Season

(Revised post from December 2015)

He has regarded the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer. Psalm 102: 17.

“What do you need?” my husband asked the director of a local food pantry during the holidays last year. The two had just met ‘by chance’.

A big smile spread across “Bob’s” face. “Nothing.”

Then he outlined a story about a great need the pantry staff had faced the week before. For years, a local company donated $2,000 worth of turkeys every Christmas. But the company was now gone, replaced by a larger corporate entity.

No more turkeys.

Someone had made a donation that would have put a small dent in this need. But Christmas was coming fast. Continue reading “Giving Ourselves in the Giving Season”

The Blessing Jar

 “But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us.” II Corinthians 4: 7, The Voice.
Our women’s group passed out blessing jars last January. Bits of paper included. I was supposed to list my blessings over the months and fill the jar.
In June, I deposited tags from my grandson’s wedding favors. “Emily and Alexander, June 11, 2016.” Blessings indeed.
There have been others. My birthday celebration. The milestone of a new decade.
My wedding anniversary in February. New milestone, new decade also.
In March, a trek to the land of Mickey Mouse with two grandsons who had never been there before. Had never watched Tinkerbell zip line through the sky. Wonder is best viewed through the eyes of children. Continue reading “The Blessing Jar”

Healing Wounds of Isolation

A teenage girl stands on her back porch breaking glass jars and cutting her own skin. Trying to cut her way “through the hurt down to the core of things” (11). Trying to end the pain of her heart.
A man sits alone in a cold cell, isolated from those he loves, those who love him.
Ann Voskamp was the girl on the porch. She had suffered the death of her younger sister, which devastated their family.
Natan Sharansky was the man in the cell. He was a Jew in the Soviet Union, a refusenik, a prisoner of the KGB. His jailers hoped to cultivate the Stockholm Syndrome within him. That happens when a victim connects with his captors. Trust grows. Secrets spill. Injustice finds new prey. Continue reading “Healing Wounds of Isolation”

The Election Year of Grown Up Mean Children

When I was in fifth grade, I suffered a humiliating episode of isolation. Something had happened between the two most popular girls in the class causing them to hate each other with a previously unparalleled venom.

Each girl began to draw allies to her side and against the other girl. Soon two distinct groups formed with all the girls in one group hating all the girls in the other group and vice versa.

Somehow, I managed to miss the drama of how it had all unfolded.  Maybe I had been sick at home or just not paying attention on the playground.  I wasn’t part of either group. But sadly, not for lack of trying. Continue reading “The Election Year of Grown Up Mean Children”

Upon a Son Deploying for the Second Time

Wet and slippery you emerge,
To swim in air.
Every morning, I greet you,
You smile and then open eyes,
Anticipating new day before you see.
You grow to fit a boy’s uniform and dusty cleats.
At dusk, your arm reaches for horizon,
To grab the fly ball;
Your skill surprises me,
You are so young. Continue reading “Upon a Son Deploying for the Second Time”