Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Story 2012

A flash narrative of the Christmas Nativity story:
            Mom with child carries baby, flees her homeland enduring arduous experiences to birth her him in the squalor of a stable. Baby becomes man, leaves mother and assisted by apostles to testify to a message of hope and love.  Naysayers try to silence him in his intention of goodness. He is a savior, here to redeem and heal the world. He must pick up the cross and carry it. His mothers and apostles cannot assume this burden. He is persecuted, tormented and dies. Yet there is a resurrection. He pushes away stone to defy darkness and death. He is resolute. Love and hope reign.

The Modern Day Equivalent Parable:
The local paper ran the following article. It seems to me a Christmas narrative. This man Victor is a family friend. He was born on the same continent as Jesus. He was ostracized, thought possessed by Satan. He languished on the burlap mat in his hut. His mother carried him from village to village begging for help. The boy child had this rare disfiguring disease.  When he was ten she gave him to the nuns who agreed to bring him to America for medical intervention.
Many wise men tended to him assisting him with his medical issues, gifts were given to support his pursuit of learning. He had a vision of hope and love. He wanted to be a doctor, work with children, and alleviate suffering. A dream so lofty it was a star in the sky. He wanted to go to medical school. It defied reason. He persisted; rules and government would thwart him. He carried this cross, his intent bigger than any barriers. This is not yet a story of resurrection but it is indeed a story of redemption. His will and dreams prevail. His story speaks to me. As a mother, I will carry my child; she may have crosses, the world may assist her, yet in the end she must push back against any and all stones to her resurrection. It is my hope and prayer. And on this Christmas it is Victor who brings me the message of good cheer from the realms of angels.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Holy Landscape

Loss has many windows.
Parents, pets, and aunts all endings give a different perspective.   

The first death, the first funeral we attend lingers, a vaporous cloud that floats a mind movie memory the shades future loss.

My first loss was that of an eight-year-old girl cousin who was my same age. She was buried in her first communion dress.   She had a veil on her head and an amused smile to her sealed lips.
The kids all played hide and go seek in the funeral home. Our rambunctious natures not restrained by death. Her parents more comforted by laughter than tears.
At the wake we put on a musical review.  Our Irish ancestry fusing through our young souls as we sang and the old ones clapped resoundingly, grief’s’ dirge was somehow melodious.
 You think after many funerals you would have an expert status, sort of like a skill set you could post on LinkedIn.
But it is never the same. Grief’s Rolodex may reveal unshed tears when one hears a church hymn, but it is like a famous song covered by a different performer. Familiar, but it is it’s own.
The view is markedly altered when we loose one of our own. I had no reference point when brothers ex wife died. In the heart there are no exes. Chapters lived back in time when all were young is what stays in the heart at a funeral.
She had a name that announced her preciousness, Julie.
She had dimples and tawny untamed curls. She was a woman who liked the earth, who asked for little and asked for little.
But she had asked for a degree and a house and against the fierce current of life she created these. She found a little ramshackle house and made it a home, for her son and daughter. She made pots of soup and memories. She brought them smiles until their dimples matched hers.
One’s life narrative alters at death; the golden threads weave with the dark times until the fabric becomes a gilded tapestry.
There was much that could have encumbered her, life events that were soul scars. Familial addiction that left a cloud on her young life, a mom who died too soon, leaving her no place to burrow for love, the ex spouse who lived in the woods and liked to take the children on walk abouts, money only enough for needs.
But she was fierce, and not a complainer.
She forged on.
Until the work truck slipped into reverse and shattered her beneath it. An assault so traumatic that it is likely her deceased mom called to her from the other realm. She did not heed that call. Instead she heeded the voice of her own heart. She defied death, stayed to live more moment’s, to walk with her children a little closer to being grown ups than her own mother had managed.
Twelve years later she died, still too young at fifty-two.
When people survive deaths first knocking they seek the purpose of their survival. Why did I live? What shall God have me do?
Living twelve more years, too short, yet for what purpose?
 Julie’s memorial was held at the church next door, the one whose resounding praising and hallelujah’s had been her Sunday soundtrack while she lolled in bed after a long workweek. After the service we all went next door to gather with her children at her home.
It was not the staged sanitized environment of a funeral home. In the home of the deceased we could peek into her world, ponder her last moments. It was a montage of her life and memorial to her journey. The ivory Victorian wedding dress that hung on her bedroom wall to swayed, her dreams in the fabric.
A golden hue came from the small room with wrap around windows. It seemed a sacristy developed for meditation. The only item in the room was a gong used by Tibetans in their call to prayer. The paned windows seemed miniature frames to the splendor of the garden. It was a fantasy garden, a mystical place lifted from a dreamy celluloid fairy tale. Perhaps the bloom-covered trellises were fairy habitats.
Her son had labored on this garden after her accident. He cut stone, moved earth and constructed arbors. He wanted his mom to have a paradise, he gave heaven on earth.
Paradise right there in her own yard, his callouses from labors to create a beauty to enchant his mother to tarry in life.
Now she has departed to another garden. He had given her vision of the holy landscape in all the beauty he created. She was fearless, undaunted in life. He perhaps emboldened her to seek a paradise more lovely than floating frocks and lush earthly landscapes. From the earth she came to return and he was the souls tiller easing her on.