The original plan was to have me write a Christmas post, but I appear to have missed that season by a couple of weeks. I therefore instead offer you a winter Ordinary Time post with a Christmas connection.
I’ve been handed several opportunities to think about life recently:
- Riding along with a friend, we narrowly avoided an oncoming car that decided to quickly turn onto our why-is-there-parking-on-both-sides-of-this-street? side street.
- Visiting my dad after his heart surgery, I saw the vast array of machinery that is needed to sustain life after such an operation. I also got to see him with and then without the breathing tube: he transformed from the “scary mechanical man” to “my father with a couple of tubes and wires” — it’s hard to capture in words!
- Walking from the bus stop to work on one of the coldest days of the year, I was at the same time aware of just how alive I am (since I could really feel the cold) and of how fragile life is (with the weather working so hard to take it away)
- Since they needed a cantor, I found myself at an Embracing Life Mass at my parish in the middle of the week. A Mass that I probably wouldn’t have attended otherwise turned into a hour of grace for me as we reflected on the importance of all life and had 17 petitions to pray for the unborn, LGBT individuals, the elderly, and everyone else.
What’s the Christmas connection? John 10:10 (ASV) tells us that Jesus said:
I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
This Jesus-life connection hit me again at The St. Norbert Abbey’s monthly celebration of Taizé prayer where we sang:
With you, O Lord
Is life in all its fullness
And in your light,
we shall see true light
So what? With all this thinking about life, I should be intensely grateful for it and yet I still have gloomy mornings where I find it very challenging to get up at 6am and give thanks to God. I still have no quick answers to a political system that can be very devoid of live-giving energy. However, I have noticed in myself a more intense desire to do life right. At the MCC church, where the traditional sermon time is replaced by a group dialogue, I have begun to ask more questions (such as, “What part of this do you struggle with and why?”) in an effort to really understand the wisdom of my fellow travelers in faith. As my dad continues to recover from his heart surgery, I let the question of whether or not I am doing enough to help my parents eat at me a little. I am more aware of the time I spend on entertainment Web sites such as YouTube and find it easier to stick to just a few videos at a time. And I hear myself asking how I can ensure that my interaction with others is life-giving.
Returning to our vaguely Christmas connection, I can think of no better closing than Clarence’s words from It’s a Wonderful Life:
You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life!