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Showing posts from 2011

The Nativity

The story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, not finding a room at the inn and Mary giving birth in a stable/cave is a continuation of the Christmas story we hear every year (refer to previous posts).

There is much written about how Christ humbled himself to be born in a stable, there was no room, etc. What has always puzzled me about the "surprise" in all this is that being born in a stable or whatever and wherever was probably very common at the time of Christ's birth. They didn't have hospitals like many of us have today. Most births were probably at home (and not in an inn either) for rich and poor alike at that time. The wealthy Romans would have had more luxurious surroundings but essentially all children were born at home. If a woman was fortunate, a midwife was called in, but most often, other women were asked to come help a woman when her time to deliver came to be. If it was in the desert, the baby was probably born in a tent; a shepherd's child mig…

The Visitation

Mary's visit to Elizabeth is another part of the Christmas story we hear every year. Again, how does this reflect on me and us today?
It must have been discomfiting to Mary's parents for her to take off in what, according to Scripture, was a sudden manner. Mary was probably needed to help with chores in her own household and travel was an expense that her family might not have been able to afford. In addition, she was betrothed to Joseph. Did her parents think it was a little odd that after a betrothal she takes off when she should have been preparing for her marriage? Did they question her? Try to keep her from going? We'll never know but these are things I would ask my own children. Here's what it would probably sound like:
Me: Congratulations on your engagement! Why are you packing?
Kid: I'm going to visit my cousin--the one who lives half-way around the world (that is about the distance to Elizabeth's house in Mary's time comparitively speaking).
Me: You…

The Annunciation

Due to my Catholic upbringing I am well aware of what is called the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. The idea is to meditate on 5 different events in Jesus' and Mary's life. Often we are encouraged to see how those events are relevant to us today, besides the obvious, so here goes...

The Annunciation:

Every Christmas season we here in the Gospel the story of the archangel Gabriel appearing to Mary with the message, "Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you." From that moment on, Mary's life changed in ways she couldn't have imagined.

But how did this occur? None of us will ever know for sure. There are numerous paintings from some of the greatest artists of the event. Most of them picture Mary kneeling in prayer looking up at Gabriel hearing his message. I'm always puzzled by those paintings. Mary came from a life of peasants. The idea that she would have time during her day to sit/kneel and meditate seems very unlikely. It is much more likely that G…

Thankfulness and Thanksgiving

I think thankfulness is one of those feelings that can be as small and brief as a nano-second and as broad as the universe. But for me, it's some of the following:

I'm thankful that I can hear. Years ago at a conference I heard that the loss of hearing was more devastating than the loss of sight because blindness cut you off from things, but the lack of hearing cuts you off from people. I can't imaging not being able to see and drive around and see the beauty of the world but what a loss it would be to miss out on hearing the first coo and sigh of your new baby, the first mama or dada. And nothing beats the sound of a baby or toddler laughing. You can't help but laugh with them! To hear great music, the sound of water in a brook, the echoes in a canyon. They are amazing! Plus, how tender to hear the words, "I love you," from someone you love, too.

I'm thankful for family. My family is dysfunctional, loud, crazy, disorganized and generally nuts. But they a…

How Do You Know?

One of my favorite songs in the movie "Enchanted" is titled, "How Do You Know?" That title says more than is apparently obvious. How do we know if someone is loving? Compassionate? Caring? Has strong belief systems? Is it by a statement or creed that "I have this or that," or by wht they do? This has historically been a great topic in dividing different religious doctrines. Faith vs. works. However, how do we know someone has faith if they don't act it out--do the works? Anyone can open their mouths and say, "I feel..., I love..., I believe... Does that really mean it is true? What would happen if everyone you care about and states they care for you couldn't speak and never had been able to speak? How would you know that person cares for you? How would you know what they believe in? and so forth?

For example: one of the first examples that my hubby is a caring/compassionate person was very early in our dating stage. I had just completed a pa…

Time in a Bottle

What an interesting title to an old Jim Croce song. But it leads me to think about what it would be like if we could stop time. As I get older and I see time marching across my face (to quote a line from "Steel Magnolias"), I sometimes wish I could stop time. On deeper analysis would I really want that? Would any of us want that?

When we are young, we can't wait to grow up and do "grown up" things like staying up later to watch a movie, driving a car, etc. Then we want to live on our own and not have to go by our parents' rules.

When we have children everything changes; it is a pivot point in life. I can remember thinking at each stage of their development, "Oh, if I could stop time right now. I love how cute they are, or the things they are doing, etc." But time keeps moving like the wind. Before long each kid started school and the letting go really begins and time flies even faster. Again, I found myself saying, "Oh, I want time to stop. I…

Sometimes "things" mean something

No "thing" is as important as a person or a life. I know that in my heart and yet sometimes it is painful when a "thing" is broken or lost.

I have moved and packed our stuff numerous times and am , if I have to say so for myself, a good packer. In all the moves in the last 20 years or so, I have only broken 2 or 3 things. Several years ago it was a teapot from my maternal grandmother. I was sick about it since it was the only thing I had of hers. Many moves I haven't broken anything. I meticulously wrap stuff in lots of paper, bubble wrap, peanuts and any other stuff I can find for cushioning. Each move while I'm unwrapping I breathe a sigh of relief when everything comes out fine.

Last night I was unpacking stuff from our most recent move. In one box every single mug and cup was broken. Most had the handles broken off and others were crushed. In another box several beautiful and delicate pieces of crystal from Don's mother bit the dust. The only ones o…

St. Francis of Assissi had a good idea

St. Francis took a vow of poverty. He owned nothing; even his monk's robe was borrowed. When he moved from place to place, it was pretty easy. Put on your borrowed shoes and robe and go. I definitely think he was brilliant in this idea of not owning anything because he never had to move anything.

With every move I make one thing begins to dominate my thinking and that is to identify how much stuff I have and it's not a pretty picture. I fantasize about giving it all to charity and then move on to my next location. I don't think anyone appreciates how much stuff is accumulated until you have to start packing it up and moving it.

Every time I have moved over the last 20 years, and primarily the last 10 years, I have taken stuff and donated it to charity. Now I'm not talking about a grocery sack of stuff. No, sirree! I'm talking carloads of stuff. Don and I moved to Chadron in November of 2008 and left in June 2010. That's only 20 months and yet we hauled multiple…

The Shelf Paper Nazi

Over the years I have come to realize that everyone has their own personal quirks that probably no one else understands. In the TV series, Sex and the City, there is one episode that discusses this--Charlotte likes to look out the pores on her face, Carrie likes to eat jelly on crackers while standing in her kitchen. One of my quirks is shelf paper. Even though I have a garage full of boxes to unpack right now, I can't do it. I have to go through the house, remove the old shelf paper (in this case it's old-style contact paper that I have to scrape off with a razor), and reapply new fresh shelf paper that I've carefully cut and measured to fit.

This last weekend I could have unpacked the kitchens and bathrooms if I had put stuff on the old shelf paper and changed it out later but I just couldn't do it; I had to have the new paper installed first. The quirky part is that I find myself being dismayed when I visit a home with either no shelf paper in cupboards or obviously…

"I wonder as I wander out over the land"

Since 2002 I have lived in six different locations not including month-long stints in a hotel and a college residence hall. Considering that I spent the first 19 (almost 20) years of my life living in one house with very little mobility or travel, this odd turn of events surprises and amazes me. I find myself "wondering" about life's odd turn of events, how each location has taught me something, and how I have lost and gained something from each location.

My first move away from "home" in 2005 I felt like a teenager leaving home and going away to college and quite incidentally I was going to work at a university. It was exciting, exhilarating, scary and painful. I felt a tremendous loss leaving my children, parents and friends behind; I missed them so much. What I gained was a wonderful sense of confidence (most of the time) and the realization that I could survive. I guess I knew in my heart that I would survive but the physical evidence of it was very affirmi…