Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When we theorise about emotion it is simple. Clean. Definable.

In the midst of life, it's more complicated.

I sat in church on Christmas morning and we prayed for the newest widow in our family. He died at 9pm (ish) the night before. While I stood in the kitchen rolling last minute Christmas rum balls, his breath stilled and he went home.

We sang Angels from the Realms of Glory and the 'Come and Worship' beckoned me. I love Christmas songs that unfold the story. I had never seen before that the chorus starts with a call to worship the newborn king, but ends with worshipping the risen king.

I can be joyful and sad together. And that's not even mentioning tired, excited, and slightly guilty.

Christmas has so much expectation. It's not surprising that it's an emotional day, when there's so much preparation. When having things a certain way and having so many traditions can seem so important.

Sometimes I'm just glad we survived.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sneaking up on Christmas

There's a whisper of advent, but somehow the shop decorations and the christmas music just drift past me this December. We are living out of suitcases for these two months and we'll drive home a couple of days before Christmas. The kids bring some hand made decorations home but the tree is packed in a box, in the garage, five hundred kilometres away. I don't tell them I'm relieved, but I am. I suspect that putting it up the day before Jesus' birthday will be joyous.

We drive along the broad river's edge and they beg me to listen to 'Mazing' and 'Holy Moly', so the car and my ears are full of praise songs. I even sneak a carol in but that's not on their list of favourites. I don't have any Christmas cards and I don't have any guilt about that, because "this year's different". I've permission to sneak up on Christmas and I wonder about making a habit of it.

In being away and in travelling home, in not having all the paraphenalia, there's a glimpse of Mary and Joseph's journey. In this year's novelty there is a freshness to Christmas. I'm not dragging myself to the finish-line, I'm stealing quietly in at the back of the celebration, and finding welcome there.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Needing mercy

Irritation makes her bark and bristle, so I lean closer. I speak softer and I skirt raw spots as we trace her story. She lived a childhood unprotected, and has lived it over and over again. She's not the only one who teeters on the edge of shouting or shaking. They are here, drowning in a welter of loss. Everyone seems to have lost. A husband, a childhood, peace of mind, safety. Gone where?

His polished smile and prepped answers draw me in. It's a performance he's perfected. He's saying its all OK now, but is it? Does gut-tearing shame heal like changing the TV channel, or from reading inspiration in the Women's Weekly? He almost convices me that it does. But when he speaks real, honest words, I can see he's on the edge, too. Of tears. Of giving up. Of seeking real change.

This place of pain and of struggle and the wrestle between life and death. The mingling of despair and hope, where all I can add is my pittance that 'it will be OK'. And this says nothing substantial, or solid, to cling to.

I can listen, too. Especially to the feelings and thoughts that we're not supposed to have. Like being angry at your husband who just died, leaving you to mop up his life. Or that you wish you were dead because the hole you are in feels endless, and dark, and crushing.

So many rules about how we should feel, how we should act, how we should live. I think about religious men questioning why Jesus didn't follow certain customs or rituals, and his answer I'm reading over and over. Puzzling how to absorb it and live it.

I desire mercy not sacrifice.
It's not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.

What does it mean to live a merciful life, and then also know that I'm one of the sick, too? A merciful life, but not a proud one.

Remembering that I'm welcomed in the same way - embraced with my messy heart and unruly feelings - needing mercy too. Us and them just doesn't work. It needs to be me among all of us. All of us sinners who need mercy. All of us lost, needing to be found. Everyone sick and needing a doctor.

linking with emily...