Thursday, December 27, 2007

fog and frost

Yesterday, we were up early, driving from the in-laws to the folks'. If there is one road that I know like the back of my hand, it's the route from Waterloo to Walkerton - I've driven it countless times in my life, so that the scenery is pretty much background. Maybe if your front door opens onto some kind of spectacular mountain range or the sun sets over the ocean during your commute home, this doesn't happen, but I think it's pretty common to get fairly indifferent to the beauty of home. For me, the farms of Waterloo, Wellington, Huron, Bruce counties are usually just what's there - the trip is time to be put in from point A to point B. Yesterday, though, I was kicked with an amazing show - the kind of beauty that explains why, as mentioned in my last post, I've been able to sense God more in creation than in anything else. When we left Waterloo, it was fairly foggy, but we could see that there was hoar frost on the trees. It was pretty cool, and as we transitioned from suburbs to farmland, it changed from kinda neat to truly magical. As we were driving, the fog burnt off, and we were suddenly in a world of bright blue sky with the full moon hanging over the horizon and every tree an amazing white wonder. I know that I often grumble through my life and my surroundings, and I really feel like this experience was grace - a blessing that I didn't deserve, but received nonetheless.

Monday, December 24, 2007

season of wonder(ing)

Christmas Eve is here and I feel nothing. I don’t like feeling like this – Christmas is supposed to be a pinnacle of spiritual experience for Christians – a time to reflect on the miracle and wonder of God coming to earth in the form of Jesus. I don’t feel that. No reverence. No awe.

I guess, throughout all of the stages of my faith, it’s always been like this. I have always felt more connected to God the creator than to Jesus. Christmas has been a time for all of the secular things that people go on about – family and tradition and giving and such, but I’ve never felt a deep connection with the story of the baby Jesus. To be honest, I feel more of a spiritual stirring from the tradition of lighting lights to drive away the long dark nights at this time of year.

This whole lack of connect might be partly because it’s become such a cliché in our culture –perhaps the telling of the story in children’s pageants and the singing of sacred songs on the radio have stripped it of any ring of personal relationship for me. Knowing that the Christmas story becomes more fleshed out as the Gospels are further from the actual life of Jesus doesn’t help either, though. Generally I wouldn’t say that I don’t believe in miracles, but I don’t really believe that the miracles in the story actually historically happened.

When I actually admit things like this, I wonder if I am, somehow, a pagan who thinks she’s a Christian. I sometimes wonder how I can claim the faith for my own when I don’t agree with fundamental tenets – PJ says I’m just not a fundamentalist, but I still wonder, at times like this, what I’m doing here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

you just gotta laugh

There's a part in Garden State where Natalie Portman says "you just have to laugh sometimes, or else you'll cry." That came to mind this morning, while we were leaving a day late for our Christmas vacation, with the fans running to hopefully dry out the water that has been seeping into our house from the roof since yesterday. It's been a stressful couple of weeks for PJ and I (deadlines, meetings, the promise of more deadlines in the New Year, emotionally intense experiences with people we care about), and the water yesterday morning was the icing on the cake. So last night, we decided to stay in town, and in between running the towels through the dryer, we ordered pizza, cracked a couple of beers, and watched the Princess Bride. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

all I want for Christmas . . . is everything

In today’s Globe & Mail , there was an article about the extent that parents in Toronto are going to to get their children tickets to a “Hannah Montana” concert. Apparently, these tickets can cost up to $1200, and the article was featuring a father who was considering taking a second job so he could get these tickets for his daughters, and another mother who was offering 2 days of her husband’s plumbing services in exchange for tickets so she could take her 7-year-old daughter.

For once, I have to say that I whole-heartedly agree with the posters in the Globe’s online discussion, who all suggested that these parents were insane to be even considering spending that kind of money to take their children to a concert, and that their children would get over the disappointment eventually.

There was another article a few weeks ago in which a “mother of two grown children” was asking for advice – her daughter had requested no presents for her family, her son was upset about this, and the commentators were weighing in on how even if the parents didn’t want gifts, the children shouldn’t be deprived.

Somewhere between nothing and $1200 concert tickets, there has to be a happy medium. We want to get gifts for our nephew, because he’s excited about presents under the tree (last year, when he was almost 4, if you asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he just said “presents” – not games or toys or books . . . it was the excitement of something mysterious and just for him that mattered). He’s (for one more Christmas only) an only child, grandchild, and nephew – meaning there’s a lot of people to provide those presents.

I feel like I am slipping on the responsible gift-giving front this year. I don’t have a lot of ideas for crafts (or time, for the few ideas I have, or for shopping further afield). We haven’t even got to the little guy yet, and I know I’ll have the same quandary I always have – it doesn’t make sense to give a gift that someone doesn’t want – but there is a large gap between want and need, and the Hannah Montana tickets reveal that it may not be good to give someone everything they want either . . .