Monday, December 26, 2011

Routine Doesn't Detract from the Miracle

Well it is the day after Christmas. The three garbage bags of minced wrapping paper, grand kids style, have been put into the dumper. Gigi's extra large box of batteries is almost empty, toys seem to suck them dry in no time. Two of the grand kids are in the front room watching Cars2, almost seems normal. Two dogs in the house have been outside, done their thing and came back in and started to wrestle. I call it that because it is hard to describe a twenty pound Westen Terrier trying to battle a one hundred and eighty pound Saint Shepherd. I guess the day after Christmas seems like every other day.

Mary's day after Christmas must have been just like every other new mothers. The folks around the Inn and village would come by and tell her how beautiful her newborn was. I don't know if she told them about the angels or the shepherds. She had mothering things that had to get done and she was the mother that had to do it. Now, I'm sure Joseph would help as much as possible, you know, run down to the corner store and buy disposable diapers, Nappies, for my English friends. But there are things a dad just can't do, no more needs to be said.

Along with the mothering things Mary would need to rest. Even though she gave birth to God her body needed rest and healing. The days leading up to the presentation of their child would be about the only rest Mary would get. We have no record of any extended family from either side coming to help Mary in the early days. She is pretty much on her own with her newborn, including all of those feedings during the night and early morning. Again, I'm sure Joseph was by her side, but that is about all.

History and faith has recorded that first Christmas as the greatest miracle ever. But, very few people, outside the shepherds, even new what took place. The importance of the miracle would need a lot of time to grow. Days, weeks, months and birthdays would come and go until the real import of that day would begin to dawn upon mankind. Mary would get a small picture when her son was found in the temple debating with the elders. Almost twenty more years would pass, routine and mundane days filled with chores and the minuscule items of life.

Miracles can rise high in our field of vision. And, it is perfectly normal for them to cast a shadow over the living that takes place. We experience the miraculous from the hand of God and living has to go on. The miracle must change us, our heart and spirit, but it doesn't eliminate the everyday routine of life. Work must be done and the bills paid, groceries need to be bought and the pile of dirty clothes doesn't vanish because we experienced the miraculous hand of God. Mary was expected to live out her routine and responsibility. Beside being a virtuous young woman, it is just possible that God also knew that she would be faithful to the routine and mundane of being a mother, yes, even to the Christ of God.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Creation Stands Still

Creation stands still, from the edge of deepest space to the tiny blade of grass next to the stall there is stillness. The quiet is their acknowledgement of the deepest reverence possible. For a moment in time the created world bows, every element within everything material knows the world is going to change. In a way no man could understand the created world knows their Creator has taken on human form.

The Bible is pretty clear in stating that even the created world has been cheated and disfigured by the fall of man. The earth was cursed and yielded her fruit only after hard labor. The book of Romans puts forth that the created world groans and waits in expectation, like a birthing mother. When the world is finally set right by the coming Kingdom Of God even creation will enjoy her original glory. I wonder how much more glorious the heavens can become. But they will become even more glorious.

The first advent has meaning for every person who will have a place in their heart for the Christ child. For those who seek Him will find Him, those who long for Him will find fulfilment. He tells us that He stands at the door and knocks and if we allow Him entrance into our lives He will give us life like never before. His life, at the first advent, is His gift to us.

The second Advent will have meaning for all of creation, for that is when the kingdom will come and creation enjoy her new glory. The Second Advent is also the time all humanity, followers of Jesus and non-followers, will bend their knees and acknowledgement of the Christ will pour forth from their mouths. Governments will collapse as the kingdom will reign. Kings, presidents and dictators will fall on their knees in recognition of the Supreme King of all time and space.

Let His Kingdom Come.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Additional Thoughts on Being and Doing

Society tends to judge people as successful or not by what they do, accomplish, achieve. And, that also means money, power and influence. A prime example is professional sports, there are many others as well. As long as they make the crowds happy and bring in the revenue their state of being doesn't matter. Oh, if they do something so disgusting and break the law it might matter. Some years ago a professional sports star admitted to sleeping with hundreds of women. It didn't seem to hurt his celebrity status, in fact it might have helped him. That story can be retold a hundred times and include politicians and preachers. What we see with our eyes seems to be more important than what we perceive with our hearts and understanding.

Jesus told us that we would be in the world but we should not be part of the world. Now I don't know what that means to you. To me it simply means that I am supposed to live under a different influence. What I do is supposed to line up with what I say I believe; that is being in a state of congruity. Being is difficult, it takes intentionality and a spiritual grounding in something outside of self. Trying to explain how to find a true state of being is like trying to give instructions on catching air. I don't think I can explain to others how to achieve the state congruity. I know how I need to work on it and what helps me.

I struggled last week with knowing I had many things to do and wasn't getting them done. My state of being was more important than accomplishing tasks for my book. I needed to be a grampa (Bumpa), which meant spending a couple of hours in the morning watching cartoons(Never SpongeBob), with my youngest grandson on my lap. And it would be repeated in the afternoon, with a hopeful nap. My grand kids needed me to be their Bumpa. In the long run, when time is not, being a Bumpa might be more important.

Peaceful is a state of being. Contentment is a state of being. Loving is a state of being. Hopeful is a state of being. These virtues flow out of the inner person, they cannot be manufactured or contrived. When they are false they collapse under the stress of living. When these marvelous attributes are genuine they can and do withstand the tests of living.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Being or Doing

I just went through a rather short period of inner conflict, short meaning four or five days. The conflict was about doing everything that I had to do, against being. Now, so as not to appear nuts, let me explain. At the end of this I hope some of you understand and can relate. I have some really important things that need to get accomplished within the next week or so. Like, this piece and book requirements. I figured how much time I would need to get things done and the tasks completed. I made commitments to have certain things done by a certain time. Yes I know, these are issues we all deal with everyday. We have responsibilities and in order to pay the bills and keep gas in the vehicle we must do what we must do.

Now comes the conflict. A serious family issue came up and I had to set aside my to-do list and concentrate on being, being Bumpa(grampa). Being is so difficult for me as I am pretty task drive, as most men are. I guess the female gender may not be quite as driven, I have my doubts. I like to know and see what I have accomplished. A good wood project that projects the perfect idea or image is to be admired. I drive Donna crazy when we go someplace in the car. Once I point the front of the Sebring towards the destination there is little time or patience for abstractions, like garage sales or weird things along the side of the road. I can head to a destination 300 to 400 miles away and tell you within ten minutes when I will arrive, I've got a problem.

Being, an inner sense purpose and knowledge of intrinsic values. Think of the following states of being and what mind picture do you have. Being in love; being a friend; being a grandpa; being a gramma; being a student; being a teacher; being a parent. All of these states of being are also coupled with actions. Gramma's bake cookies and Bumpa's sit in their chair and watch cartoons with a four year old. CONFLICT comes when you go over in your mind all of the things that you should be doing instead of being.

More on this later I have to get busy doing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dad was The Real Santa Claus

I remember the time the real truth about Santa hit me. And, I say, hit me, for a very good reason. It was a childhood revelation with a gigantic impact. Indulge me a moment to explain. A few days before Christmas Santa always showed up at the American Legion in Riverview. Why would Santa come to the legion? I didn't know and as a kid I didn't really care. I was just happy that he came. So, every Christmas the Galloway kids went to the legion Christmas party. There was an endless supply of soda pop and little bags of chips. We all knew that a big moment was going to come, we just didn't know exactly when.

With a huge belly laugh Ole Saint Nick would announce his arrival. Somehow he appeared, almost out of nowhere. All of us kids would laugh and giggle and scurry around trying to get close. A really big chair was waiting for the jolly gift giver, up near the Christmas tree. With almost continuous belly laughs he would sit down and us kids would scurry into a line. No cuts in line were allowed, nor even thought of, Santa would certainly see such a serious naughty.

One by one all of the waiting kids would get up on Santa's lap and the most serious question in the entire universe would be asked; Have you been good for your mom and dad? I don't know about any of my friends, but I always answered yes. Deep inside I was hoping Santa wasn't God, and knew very well all of the things I did wrong. Like, tell my brother, Tim, he was going to hell for killing my frog. I did pay for that sin with a well placed bar of soap, coming from my mother. I guess he wasn't God because Christmas morning I was always happy.

Talk about having ants in your pants, waiting in line was as bad a waiting to get the winter dose of Cod Liver Oil, also distributed by mom. When it was finally my turn I got up on Santa's lap and after a couple of belly laughs he asked the all important question. My rather sheepish yes brought another belly laugh. And then it happened, the revelation of all time. My dad was the Real Santa, I could tell. It wasn't his laugh or anything like that, it was the ring on his finger. I recognized the ring. Wow, what a secret I was now carrying around in my adolescent brain. My dad, the Real Santa. No other kid in the universe could say that. But, for  a while I would have to keep the secret.

Many years later I had the opportunity to be the Real Santa. We were living in Niles and my good friend, Larry Clymer, wasn't able to visit the kids like he always did for the Optimist Christmas party. I agreed to attempt to fill the role. The first problem was the outfit. Larry was about 5'8" and I was 6'4". Well with some elf magic the suit fit. the next problem was the Ho, Ho, Ho and the deep belly laugh. I didn't know if I could pull that one off. I practiced the laugh and the all too familiar, Ho Ho. Just before my entrance to the waiting children I was in the bathroom, one last practice and out the door. As I reached for the door it opened, a very small hand from the other side had given it a tug. Much to my surprise, and I'm sure to his, I was standing in front of the son of the district court judge. Little John was in the first grade. His dark brown eyes seemed to glow as he looked at me. Santa, Santa, are you the real Santa? With a perfect belly laugh and a much practiced Ho, Ho, Ho, I told him I was and in fact that I knew his name and his dad.

The story is true and a short time later little John was killed in a tragic accident. I cherish the memory of being the real Santa for a bright eyed little boy that Christmas. I hope and pray that his dad and family continue to remember his bright smile and awe filled eyes.

What about you? What do people see in you? I'm not talking about the real Santa. I'm talking about the real Jesus Christ. The real Saint Nicholas was always about the real Jesus. That is why he gave and lived, so others would see Christ in him. May our Christmas gift to the world be, Christ alive in us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Random Thoughts on Being a Christmas Shepherd

They were men used too and at home with dirt, dung and dew.
They were men of earth, skin dark and weathered by years of earth's elements endured
Hands, fingers bent, scared, assured the safety of the sacrificial flock.
Dirt as skin with these men. Dust of summer fills their lungs as the mud of spring clings to their feet.
Dirt, dark and rich with pungent smell, holds life as men of dirt will tell.

Dung on earth enables springs green birth, left by sheep, new growth to keep.
The dew shimmers and glistens with such beauty, entrancing beyond jewels.
The drops cling to wool and blade, riches for common man Creator-made.

Just some visual words for the Holydays

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dreams- Don't Let Them Die

I remember the first story I wrote in elementary school. The Radioactive Rabbit, was based on a movie I watched on TV with Mickey Rooney. He was caught in the fallout of a radioactive blast. My radioactive rabbit was as big as a person. Another attempt at writing came years later when I wrote a story about my dog, Scout. He was caught in a coyote trap. I found him nearly frozen late on a February night a couple of miles from our house, in the wilderness of northern Michigan. I sent the story to Readers Digest and got a real nice, Rejection Letter. I was disappointed and it took a few weeks for me to get over the rejection of a piece of writing that was sure to be prized.

I am blessed to be able to have a book near publication. My work on, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God, was my therapy. I had no intention of putting it out into the public world. I wrote because I needed to, I had to write down experiences and pains to see if anything made any sense. For hours at a time the words gushed out and the yellow tablet filled. To stop writing would have been like stopping a dam with a giant hole in it. At many point the writing was raw and painful, wounds would bleed again. When I came to what I thought was the end I wanted to set it aside. I would be able to look at it and feel some sense of accomplishment. A few people knew what I was doing and wanted to read it. The exposure of my thoughts and spirit was not what I wanted.

Purpose- My writing struck a nerve with some people, people I trusted and valued. They encouraged me to complete the writing in a manuscript form. I was told that the real message of the book needed to be told and that I was entrusted with the story for a purpose. Well, that put a whole different light on the subject. If I was entrusted with the story how could I not put it out into the world. So, I decided that if I was entrusted with the truth and story I must complete it and wait to see what should be done with it. When it was done I let a few people read the entire manuscript and the encouragement continued.

Hold On- I completed the body of the story and knew that some important truths were in the writing. Now, what should be done with it. I researched the publishing world and learned some pretty sobering facts. Hundreds of thousands of manuscripts are written and submitted each year and very few get read. For first time authors the chance of finding an agent and publisher is almost impossible. What made me think I would be any different. Time passed and doubts piled up. Pretty soon the manuscript was in a nice binder and sitting on the shelf. The passing of time brought a great friend into my life and new hope. The manuscript was recorded as an audio book. The few copies that we made were an impact in the lives of the people that listened. I needed to hold on to the dream that what was entrusted to me would find a place when the time was right.

Message and Messenger- I needed to remember that I was just the messenger. God could have picked any other person to tell the story, but He picked me. Good or bad, pain or joy, I was the one who was to tell the story. The message is always more important than the one proclaiming. John the Baptist heralded in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed His coming and told others that, He must increase and I must decrease. Christian writing must always keep the proper relationships. Writers are entrusted with a message and they will give account of the message and talent in which they were to proclaim the message. Communicating the message from God, in print or voice, is, and should be, an awesome responsibility. A responsibility not to be taken lightly, nor thought of as being optional. The accounting finds the faithful and the lazy, the accountant knows what each has been given.

Dream- The thought that words put down on paper could influence the way people live has always been compelling to me. Do writers have big egos? I suppose most do. But, the idea that what is written can be used by God for years to come out to temper any ego with the sobering fact of, truth. Do not let your dreams die. Believe that there is a time when God will make light shine on the truth He entrusted to you.