It has been a long time since I last wrote here. I have been thinking, and contemplating, and busily writing things on paper. That, coupled with the temporary inconvenience of not having internet access, kept me relatively quiet. ME! Can you imagine?
And now it's the day before before Christmas. I am at home waiting for the UPS driver and a package, and for the U.S. Post Office delivery person who does not always put my mail in the correct mailbox, while Mrs. Peel sleeps blissfully and elegantly on the radiator.
All day yesterday, rain tapped at the windows. It was like Christmas in Los Angeles, as I remember it: yuletide rains, warm temperatures, aqua and coral decorations on trees sprayed with fake snow. My friend Howard took me to see a huge poinsettia tree and I suddenly understood why I had never been able to keep my Christmas poinsettia alive: mine was just bunch of twigs stuffed into a beribboned pot. Christmas in L.A. was an experience not of Christmas Past or Christmas Present, but of Christmas Other because it looked so different from what I had grown up with. Christmas under palm trees! How odd it seemed!
And yet, how much more like the first Christmas than our nordic pines and our Dickensian feasts, and Clement Clarke Moore's poem, which does not even mention Jesus (though Moore was a religious scholar, and so how odd that seems, too).
We have not evolved a whole lot since Mary bore that baby. We still wage war and are victims of war, we still oppress and are oppressed. We still have major vision problems – can't see the poor until they are troublesome, for instance, can't see the person behind the skin. And heavens, we are easily distracted by ducks and mileys and penguin santas.
But underneath that, at the same time, we love. The heart is made for love. We are called to love every year, every day, every moment. The media may spin the season, commerce may manipulate our guilt and our desire to please, fellow Christians may tell us we're doing Christmas all wrong, atheists may accuse us of stupidity for doing it at all, and all of that noise distracts us from the not-always-easy but actually quite short to-do list we were given by Jesus: love God, love your neighbor.
Yes, we're flawed. Yes, we mess up. Yes, we don't always do it right. But we return to it, to the task at hand, and there are moments, moments, and shining, and sudden onsets of joy. This Love has no expiry date. And that is good news.
May your days be merry and bright.