Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter light

       The following posts were written before the tragedies in Connecticut. But I have to say a few words first.  Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and friends of all of those who suffered such tremendous loss. We all feel your loss on such a personal level. 
      My oldest daughter is a teacher - on this day, in this school, she would have been hiding her kids in closets or bathrooms and going out to face the gunman.  I’m a counselor and worked in local mental health clinics and hospitals for my first years of practice.  This gunman could have been one of my clients.  Some of my best friends at church are the first graders - Maggie, Claudia, Madeline, Nicholas.   This story is all of us.
       I have no words for this chaos, no platitudes or quick political answers.  Theology brings more questions than answers for me. 

        Really all I have left is “walking with.”  I almost wrote standing with and then thought no.   I will not just stand with you - I will walk with you - through the grief, through the faith questions, through the nightmares.  Through this unimaginable Christmas season. 
     So, for the families faced with a grief I cannot even wrap my mind around, for teachers, principals and staff at schools everywhere, for the counselors and social workers who struggle daily in an overwhelmingly inadequate mental health system, for all the first responders who walked into a horror beyond imagination, and for all the children,  I... and hopefully, we all, will walk with you. 



Yuletide Flowers
      It’s been a strange December. I had a friend from high school, who was a healthy, fitness and wellness person, die suddenly of colon cancer. Another friend relapsed with her alcoholism and yet another was injured in a car accident when her husband ran a stop sign. The other driver in the accident died. All their lives in that one moment were completely changed. 
      Feeling melancholy reflecting on these events one morning, I found myself with 30 extra minutes on my hands before I had to be into work. I went to one of my favorite parks, Charles Towne Landing, and walked through the rows of blooming camellias. A mist hung over the park, cocooning me with the bouquets. I felt sadness and joy all rolled into one. I think that’s one thing I love best about the human heart. It’s big enough to hold both. Just when I think it’s going to break, joy comes through a camellia.


       I love how my short trip to Africa has made me cognizant again that the whole world doesn’t run on U.S. time.  It’s early summer in South Africa - not almost winter.   The days are warming and the jacaranda are blooming.  Families are planning to spend their holidays at the beach in the sun.  The daylight is brighter, warmer.  The Christmas lights are up, in the bars and in the stores, but with none of the overblown extravagance of a U.S. mall.

        Back at home, the thin light of early winter is upon us.  Days are shorter and colder.  We light fireplaces and candles to hold off the darkness.  Houses are dressed with strings of white or colorful lights.  We hold onto the light in these darkening days - but it helps me to remember that in other places in the world, the jacaranda are blooming.


"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."
                                                                                    -- Leonard Cohen

Lately it seems
I'm always digging,
Digging until fingers bleed,
Until hands are raw.

Rock and dirt,
Layer upon layer,
With no end in sight,
No cause for hope.

But then this!
Unsought after, unexpected,
Unbidden and unbiddable,
As miracles must be.

Just a crack, and I see
That under the dirt
 Is not more dirt,
But another sky.


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