Tag Archives: family

Are You Ready?

23 Dec

It is 3 days before Christmas, preparations are well underway. Houses are decorated, kids are out of school, and traffic around anywhere that shopping happens has become a test of patience. I hear a familiar refrain wherever I go “Are you ready?” There is, as the song goes, “parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and caroling out in the snow.”

I’ve always (at least in my mind) responded, well, ready or not, Christmas will come and I don’t HAVE to do anything except be present. Growing up Christmas was usually just our family. It was this way in part by design and in part because my extended family lived states away. This was normal for me and it worked. My favorite parts of Christmas was the candlelight service and our Advent ritual. The one year we had Christmas a couple days early because of weather taught me that good results can come from being flexible (after I was quite resistant to the idea.) My mom, being a super mom, did of course manage to get the message to Santa and we got an early delivery.

In my twenties I moved far away from my family and got to make new traditions. All of this to say, when someone asks me if I’m ‘ready’ for Christmas I kinda shrug.

Because to me being ready for Christmas doesn’t have much to do with buying presents, preparing food, traveling places, or the exact right kind of chocolate (I’m looking at you Christmas with the Kranks).

To me Christmas is about preparing my heart to be filled with the Joy of the remembrance of the divinity within myself. Christmas is about witnessing humanity remembering each other and reaching hands across imaginary lines used the rest of the year to divide. Christmas is about lifting my voice and my hands in song to celebrate the rebirth of the light in the darkest time of the year, and remembering that it is within each being. Christmas is about sharing love and memories with our dear ones, and making new memories.

I am not saying that Christmas can’t also be the things that make it special and fun for others. I got my picture with Santa this year and there are presents under my tree. But those things are not required for me to be ‘ready’.

A heart filled with Faith, Peace, Love, and Joy. That is all I will ever really need.

Yes, I am ready.

PS As a minister of a church being ‘ready’ does take on a few more tasks than it has in the past, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

20151222_221103_HDR

2015 Christmas Tree

Advertisements

Family

25 Jun

This week has been the longest, hardest, and deepest week of my life. At this time last Thursday my friend Ogun summoned me to come see his wife and my dear friend Jennifer. I was blessed to be able to talk with her and speak words of love and share a hug. She was entering hospice then and today was her first celebration on life service.

I was one of the lucky ones, since Jennifer received many of her treatments here, I got to spend lots of time with her over the last several months. When I moved to Lee’s Summit 9 years ago Jen, Ogun, and their daughter Joy adopted me into their lives. Even though they moved away to follow their calling, we were never that far away in our hearts.

I understand that some people are close with their blood relatives. Since I grew up half a country or more away from my parents siblings, I never have had a consistent ‘I really know you’ kind of relationship with most of the extended family. Of course we loved them and had fun on trips, but a year or two is a long time between visits especially for a kid. We did however have some great family friends who were my ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ and of course the church grandma brigade.

I moved far away from the place I grew up and began the process of finding my ‘people’ all over again. It is a beautiful thing to be willing to love and be loved by the friends who do become your family. Family can sometimes have something to do with shared DNA, but it can also be about shared experience, understanding one another, acceptance, and positive regard.

This last week I’ve spent a good portion of my time with the family and close friends of Jennifer. Together we laughed and cried, shared stories, had golf cart adventures, and held vigil. Jen’s sister and Ogun’s sister tended to Jen’s needs in a beautiful dance of service, love, and tenderness in the weeks leading up to her return to Unity Village which they continued along with others when they were here. My role was in service to them and the family: airport runs, where can we find a such and such, a shoulder to laugh or cry on, and supplying cinnamon rolls. There are not really words to pull together the fullness of our experience, but I will never forget it.

Today when I made some remarks at the service, I thanked Ogun and Joy for allowing me to be a part of their family. I included all of the family, Jen’s parents, Ogun’s mom, and the sisters, in that sentiment. I feel like as a last gift (that I know of at this moment) Jennifer gave us each other. For that, I am truly grateful.

IMAG0593