Tag Archives: advent

Keep Awake

Yesterday I witnessed a beautiful sunrise over the marsh as I drove south to reconnect with best friends who I don’t get to see as often as I like. The sky turned from dark purple to light grey to a sudden burst of light with pink, orange, and bright blue hues. The morning fog swirled around trees felled by Hurricane Irma or maybe just strong summertime storms. I had Christmas music blaring on the radio and I felt it: peace. The stillness within the chaos of everything happening in my world these days. I’ve been working at noticing the happy and beautiful things in my life, and was able to be in, and appreciate, that moment. And it felt wonderful.

That moment was fleeting, however, as my mind drifted away from peace toward events occurring over the past week that have been troubling me. Tax reform that only benefits the wealthy and corporations and harms the poor and middle class. Provisions in this tax bill harming Puerto Ricans by applying a 20% excise tax to payments made by companies on the mainland to their subsidiary businesses in PR. The movement to destroy net neutrality and change the way information is disseminated. Climate change that is definitely happening and leaving polar bears without ice for their homes. A lack of moral leadership in Washington on both sides of the aisle (Presidents Trump and Clinton, Senator Franken, and more).

And then I worshiped at my parents’ church this Sunday morning, the first Sunday of Advent, hoping to hear the good news found in this period of waiting for Jesus’ birth.

The Gospel lesson from Mark 13: 24-37 tells us to keep awake, and not to lose hope. Even in the midst of an apocalyptic, bleak-looking world with great loss and suffering, we know that God brings new things out of the old. It’s the story of the Resurrection. He brings light out of the darkness and a new hope with it. We simply have to watch and keep awake.

But it seems so damn hard these days to stay awake. The disciples had issues staying awake for only an hour when Jesus asked them, and they knew Jesus in real life! We are living in a world with a loss of values and perversion of power, and I feel full of rage and despair often. I’m not alone in feeling this way, but that doesn’t make the world better. And the world, especially the United States that I love, needs to do better.

Pastor Goyer repeatedly told us that the end times aren’t here quite yet. In reality, it is the old order of power and politics (white male hegemony) that is on the way out in favor of our whole community sharing power. Everyone. I love the sound of that. It needs to be our reality.

In the meantime, the dark time, I still need to look for the signs of Jesus turning out the old and reforming it into something entirely new. I need to be fully alert and watching for the billions of ways he comes into my life. I’m awake, and doing my best not to lose hope. The light is coming. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine?

Not yet, but I’m keeping watch and staying awake so I can. I hope.

Simply Having A Wonderful Advent Season

The weeks leading up to Christmas Day are busy for everyone, but I think they feel especially busy for clergy families. Even though Advent is a time for waiting for The Christ-child to be born, I find it difficult to breathe and enjoy the pause before Jesus joins us here on Earth. 

I’m usually torn between wanting to make memories with the boys and wanting to do things the way I like. Sometimes these goals are one and the same, like baking cookies or decorating a real Christmas tree. The process, however, looks very different from how it should go in my head.
 
For example, Henry is an excellent baker, but wants to dump everything into a batter all at once, including egg shells. THIS DOESN’T WORK! So I try to practice my breathing and calmly tell him to refrain from dumping the ingredients until it is time. Sometimes I can do it, and others I lose my sh*t. 


The Hen was interested in decorating the tree this year…until he wasn’t. He put half of the ornaments up on the bottom third of the tree and called it a day. This left me to complete trimming the tree and to reorganize the ornaments that were bottom heavy. But not too many, or else he would notice that I moved them from their spots. The struggle is real for Type A parents with toddlers! 


We also worked together to create the saddest looking gingerbread house ever. I thought since we had a kit my lack of artistic skill and structural engineering wouldn’t be an issue. It was. The roof caved in within the hour, and it looked like a toddler had iced the house. Except my toddler refused to ice it, so it was all my fault it didn’t look like the picture. Luckily, the candy was delicious so it saved the project.


I won tickets to two shows in December. First up was at the Straz Center in Tampa – a fantastically imaginative touring off-Broadway production of Into the Woods. I took my mother-in-law, Margo, and we loved the pared-down production that allowed for the creativity of the performers to shine through. For the second one, all four of us headed to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater to see The Octonauts Live on Stage. This propelled my street cred to a new level in the Hen’s eyes since he has seen every single episode of the show. He seemed concerned at first, but later got into the clapping and screaming with all of the other kids. Keith and I toasted our awesome parenting afterwards because we survived.


Our church (Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Seminole, Florida) had its annual Christmas pageant, and since we had an infant we (Keith, me, and Elliot) were the de facto choice to play the Holy Family. Elliot crushed his role by being his happy, chill self. Keith’s Joseph calmly took Jesus’ birth in stride. This left me to struggle with my head covering throughout the production, while keeping an eye out for our little shepherd, Henry. One of the other toddler moms dutifully corralled Henry and the two other shepherds with graham crackers for most of the reading, until the shepherd wanted his parents. All in all, it went well, there were fun animals (llamas!!) to see, and cookies to eat afterwards.


Finally, since the weather remained incredibly hot in December, we had lots of outside adventures to parks, in our backyard, and to ice cream shops. You know, all the normal things to do in Florida during winter. I love that we get to do these things year-round, and try to make the most of our lovely “winter” season.