Monday, December 31, 2007

I say that all my kids were together on Saturday. That’s not entirely true. Trina has been gone for 15 Christmases. A brain tumor first treated with surgery and radiation when she was just turning 13, ended up taking her life 10 years later. Trina loved Christmas and the first Christmas after her death we had presents under the tree that she bought earlier that year.

Trina is not totally absent on those rare occasions when the rest of us are together, but since I don't know how to deal with her absence, for the most part I treat it with silence.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The agenda at Hometown Friends Church is simplified this morning. All the music is listed as “Worship through Song” and it’s all led by just one young man with a guitar. We’re singing good worship choruses with the words up on the screen. These songs make me think of high schoolers singing in the Meetinghouse at Twin Rocks Friends Camp. They put more heart, more fervor into the words than what I’m sensing today from this Sunday morning group. So I draw on an image from a year and a half ago and feed my hope with the memory of a younger and more engaged crowd.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The sequence on the pew was Cindy, me, Ethan, and then Mary at the end next to the isle. Mary was there sitting by herself when we arrived at the Christmas Eve service and squeezed by her to take a seat in the balcony. The service included an opportunity to greet people nearby and it was then that we learned Mary’s name. She told Ethan he looked familiar, but none of us have been able to recall a previous point of connection.

My observation (or speculation) is that Mary gave Ethan a gift—the gift of acceptance given by a stranger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yesterday in San Francisco one of our Newberg High School juniors had brain surgery. I hope to hear a report today. In the meantime I pray that every good cell in his body will unite in an all out battle to bring him back to normal health. I ask God to give his parents an unusual sense of confidence and hope. And for all his caregivers I ask for wisdom and insight that will maximize their efforts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Instead of saying “Have a merry Christmas,” he expressed a desire that I might find time to relax, enjoy some good food, and experience fun with friends and family. He’s in another state and we were talking on the phone, but without realizing it he shifted my view from clichés and obligations to something a little more restorative or redemptive.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I have serious doubts about whether the women’s vote will have very much impact for Hillary Clinton in Iowa. I’m guessing there is one group of women going to the caucuses who care about gender, but they don’t see it as the only basis for their decision. Another group of women still have gender bias so deep in their cultural roots that they are actually comfortable with a male dominated society. These are not people who will propel Clinton to victory in Iowa.

Friday, December 14, 2007

There are arguably better adverbs than the ones that have been overused or misused. I’m usually uncertain what is really meant when the word arguably is used. I hear it given more power than it has. Hypothetical example: Today was arguably the worst weather we’ve had this month. It was obviously the worst weather this month and only a fool would argue the point, but the adverb is thrown in with the intention that it bolsters the position rather acting as a disclaimer. Arguably means it is something that can be argued, disputed, questioned. It’s indisputable that arguably has been distorted.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I opened my treasure chest of memories yesterday when I noticed the ad in the paper for “A Tuna Christmas.” I saw the play with one of my daughters several years ago. And a few years earlier two daughters and I got our first exposure to this tiny town where the “Lion’s Club is too liberal and the Patsy Cline never dies” when we went to “Greater Tuna.” Two actors create an eclectic array of characters, a lot of laughs, and a good memory.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. I’ve been at Hometown Friends Church enough times over enough years that I often recognize voices during the open worship time before I look up and turn toward the person speaking. For the second time this morning I’m hearing a voice from the balcony that I’m not recognizing. I like identifying with the person sharing and making more connection than just through the words. But I’m glad we aren’t an ingrown ghetto where anyone who doesn’t know everyone else is an outsider. Earlier I noted a new person in the choir who I don’t know, and the same is true with the brass ensemble. This is good.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In just three weeks we’ll be on the other side of Christmas. I can’t pinpoint when my enjoyment of Christmas peaked. It might have been when I was a child. Or it could have been on the occasion of creating hand-made gifts for my children when the four oldest were young.

If I think Christmas is about my personal happiness, I expect the shadows of obligation and seasonal tasks will grow longer.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I don’t get it. I don’t understand what it means when a group of people in a church for a memorial service sing “every joy or testing [sorrow] comes from God above, given to his children as an act of love.” This morning we were celebrating the life of Nopi Tsohantaridis. Nopi’s time on a bed in a care center was a gift from God? I don’t buy that. And death? Death was not God’s plan. Death came into the world as the result of disobedience/sin. We did it to ourselves.