War on Christmas

How about we all declare a “war on Christmas” this year and we don’t buy anything for anyone? Celebrate by spending time with family. Make gifts, if you must give them. Make presence be your present. We cannot object to the commercialization of Christmas with our mouths and then support it with our wallets.

Christmas has become a tiresome event. It has grown into a monstrosity. It has become a reason to buy everything in sight and wear ourselves out. We have forgotten that Christmas was first celebrated in a stable, quietly, in the back alley of a nowhere town. It was celebrated by three people, surprised, alone, and unprepared. And yet it was enough. It was exactly enough.

We have forgotten in the midst of all the tinsel and paper and layaway plans that Christmas is about welcoming God into our lives. We have forgotten the joy of knowing that we are not alone in this lonesome world. God came to us, in the form of a helpless child, born to unwed parents, in a desolate and desperate time.

God comes to us, like that. God comes to all of us, quietly, surprisingly, in the middle of our tears and our troubles. God comes to us where we are, as we are. We don’t have to be perfect or well dressed or well educated. We just have to be ourselves, open to the questions.

What if God is real?
What if God loves us so much that God comes down to be with us, instead of us having to go to God?
What if “eternal life” means waking up, now, and living life fully?

Sometimes the questions frighten us more than the answers.

With the commercialization of Christmas we have traded big spending for the Baby. We have traded materialism for the Message. We’ve put so much “stuff” on top of the beauty of what Christmas really means that we can’t see it anymore.

Drop it all. Drop the lights and the show and the money. Drop it. It is holding us back. We’ve been fed artificial flavoring and coloring for so many years that we’ve forgotten what reality tastes like. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)

Indeed.

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Poem – Swim.

We all swim in the sea that is God.
Everything we see
everyone we meet
everything we touch
all that we taste
all that we hear

Is God,
Distilled
Or diluted.

One drop of God is enough
to make a sea
to drown in.
One drop of God is enough
for a puddle
to splash in on a rainy day.

Today is your birthday
and the day you die.

It is all today. It is all this moment.
Every second you are waking up.
Every second you are forgetting.

Swim.

Swim out beyond the markers,
beyond the lifeguards.
Swim out to the hidden rock
just underneath the crashing waves
and rest a while.

Unfriendly

It hurts to be unfriended by a family member. But then again, family isn’t by choice. Family is an accident that sometimes works out ok. If he had cared about my feelings he would have just “hidden” me. But he has proven over a decade that he doesn’t care about my feelings at all.

It isn’t as if we had been arguing. I can only suspect that my posts were a little more frequent than he liked. They certainly were more religious than he likes. I can only guess. It isn’t safe to guess what other people’s motives are, I know. In the absence of communication, imagination sneaks in, however.

When I was in England after the death of my Mom, I learned something sitting on the cliffside in Tintagel. It came to me, unbidden, that family has nothing to do with blood.

Sitting on that cliff, on that bright April day, I was surrounded by tiny wildflowers. I was warmed by the gentle sun. I smelled the sea air and heard the crash of the waves below. I was alone. My aunt had wandered off in the ruins, purported to be King Arthur’s castle. The other tourists were away. In that moment the reason for my journey came to me. In that moment of silence the answer to a question I had not asked came.

I wanted to stay there, forever, soaking up that knowledge. When you get that connection, you want to keep it. But sometimes the connection is just a brief kiss on the head, just a handshake from God. Sometimes God just slips you a note, folded up, pressed into your hand, as you are passing in the hall between classes.

We owe nothing to family just because of their blood relationship. We owe nothing to people who say they are friends and don’t prove it by their actions. They may be friendly enough, but if they don’t make time to be with you, then they aren’t really friends. They may be there only when you are happy, but leave when you are sad. They may ignore your birthday. They may forget that you are allergic to certain foods and always serve them. Holidays can be especially difficult because of their actions, or inactions.

Ties between people are bridges that both have to build. If you are doing all the work, walk away.