Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

Each Christmas Eve my cousin Marvin, my children, my husband, my mother and I put on our pajamas, eat pizza and the cookies we baked earlier in the day and watch movies until the wee hours of the morning. It never fails that Marvin will pick a movie that is so bad that it becomes funny and instead of watching the movie we laugh at all of the reasons it's so horrible. This Christmas Eve was bittersweet. Although Matt's girlfriend Devin and my step-daughter Tai Lynne were present, my mother was not able to travel.

Before going to sleep, we always read the children's classic The Crippled Lamb, a selection from the book of Matthew, feed the reindeer- although my children are all nearly grown- and leave cookies and milk for Santa. And as sure as the sun rises on Christmas morning, Santa will have sipped the milk and left crumbs on the table.

When Lyndsay was younger she would wake us up at an ungodly hour on Christmas morning and we would all walk bleary- eyed to the tree as she scurried beneath to see what Santa had brought her for being such a good girl. Now that she's almost 16 (and more sour than sweet most of the time) she wakes up much later in the morning, but since she is the baby of the family we let her be the first to make the Christmas morning discovery.

My husband and I have been up for hours waiting to hear movement. He's reading the paper as I write this and we both know it will be awhile because they stayed up until 4 am watching movies.

In a few hours there will be Christmas paper and bows scattered everywhere and the house I so carefully cleaned will look like a battle zone. Christmas music will be playing in the background and the kids will be enjoying their gifts while I sit in my favorite chair sipping tea and staring in amazement at how blessed I am. Lynn will begin preparing the lobster-stuffed grouper and then we will sit down as a family at the dinner table and once again give thanks to such a wonderfully amazing God.

But his holiday is not without sadness. At the moment Granddaddy is ill having given up his will to live. There have been several deaths that have shaken us and for too long we have had to deal with the evil motives of evil people.  We have had to tighten our belts financially and we have witnessed a world that gets crazier and scarier by the moment.

Just a moment ago Simba, our dog, threw up on the carpet and I remembered that I forgot to wrap a gift, but no matter how imperfect my life is, how silly our family traditions, or how wretched the world may seem, it truly is a wonderful life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I See the God in You

     The other day I was talking to someone who had recently attended a hot yoga class upon my recommendation only to discover that that form of exercise was not for her. "No, never again!" Were her exact words. We laughed a bit about her experience and before saying goodbye she said in jest "Namaste." Another person overhearing the conversation turned to me and asked what does that mean? As I was explaining that Namaste is an expression that means "The Spirit in me bows to the Spirit in you," I started wondering how many opportunities I have missed in my own life to acknowledge the divinity I see in others.
     Of course it is easy to honor the miracle of my children. When I see them now I am humbled by the fact that just a few short years ago they were only an idea. A concept that my husband and I talked about and then one day I found out I was pregnant and thus began the miracle of their lives. With every heart beat and movement I realized that they were indeed divine creations and so when they were born it was easy to honor the Spirit from which I knew they came. They were God's creation and part of him was breathed into them on the day they were born.
     But when I encounter those people who bother me, it's not so easy. Through my life's journey I have sometimes had difficulty honoring the divinity that exists in everyone regardless of how vile he or she may seem. When that rude clerk at CVS throws my change on the counter without as much as a "thank you for shopping here," it's hard to remember that she is a child of God and deserves my love, honor and respect.
     Of course this doesn't mean that I should accept bad behavior or allow myself to be a doormat for others, but it does mean that before I open my mouth to cast judgement on another I have to think that this person was created by an Almighty God who loves them even in the midst of their bad behavior so why can't I?
     I have found that since I have began honoring the God I see in everyone I meet I have become more quiet in reverence for who they are and how we are ultimately connected even when I can't see anything that we could possibly have in common. The commonality is that we are all created by God and that makes us brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Just like my children have a bit of me as part of their DNA each of us has a part of God as ours. 
     I'm sorry but I am no longer willing to look at someone who is different from me in either age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, creed, sexual preference or beliefs and not see myself in him. He is my brother. She is my sister and there is divinity in each of us because we honor the same God. There is only one. 
     Forgive me if it takes a moment for me to greet you audibly when we meet. Please just wait with me because I am not being standoffish. I am actually taking a moment to acknowledge the wonderful, divine creation that you are. Namaste.