“It is but lost labour that we haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of anxiety. For those beloved of God are given gifts even while they sleep.”
This is a quote from the beginning prayers of Night Prayer from”A New Zealand Prayer Book.”
Now with Christmas on the way we will begin our mad dash to get everything ready. Presents to be bought, baking to do, parties to attend. There is so much we think we have to do. As the quote says we rise early and go to bed late. In between we obsess about the things we haven’t done yet. We are the creators of the pressure we are under. We can’t turn loose of our control. We won’t let ourselves fall down on the job.
As the time draws closer we become more and more anxious. Anxiety becomes an even more part of life. We Christians are not the only ones who are frantic. Hanukkah is coming also and events for others. Even many agnostics and atheists can get caught up in the commercial part of the season. It leaves very few untouched.
For those of us who grew up with the Christmas traditions it can seem magical. People seem nicer. Charities receive donations and people help each other more. The sad part is that we do all this in one short season. Then we seem to go to sleep until the following year. Showing kindness, helping others, and sharing what we have should go on all year. Somehow we need to learn to carry it forward. Think what a wonderful world it would be if we did.
Maybe then we would not be frantic for a month and take the gifts that God gives us even when we sleep.
This week has been sort of up and down. For me it wasn’t a normal week. This week we celebrated Thanksgiving. I used to love this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I find myself with mixed feeling.
As we grow older things are not the same as when small children were around and there was a sense of excitement building. My children and even their children are grown and flown. Don’t get me wrong. This is what parents want. My children are gainfully employed and some of their children are beginning careers. However, it is an adjustment. The Christmases from those younger days are past. Family doesn’t all live near and other priorities prevail. I am blessed to have loving children but they have priorities of their own. My husband and I encouraged them to form their own traditions. We do see the nearest ones during the holidays but one daughter and her family are far away and can’t always be here. We do go there when we can.
I guess the bottom line of all of this is that time moves on and our lives change. Change is the only constant. Even though the changes can make me sad at times I am still grateful for what I have. So many people really suffer through the holidays. Grief crops up in a big way for those who have lost a loved one or if life has had some bad turns during the year. There are so many pictures of happy families and perfect Christmases that hit you in the face and remind you of your losses. The ads begin earlier and earlier each year.
I am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect Christmas. At least not like the ones in the ads. The problem is that the perfect Christmas happened 2000 years ago and the conditions would never be shown in an ad. What we are longing for is right in front of us. It is the birth of Christ. It was not in a beautiful home but in a stable. If we can spend our time with that in focus it changes everything. Celebrate that Christ was born to show us the way to God.
The news today continues to follow the sexual harassment scandals. This is all so sad. It is sad for the women who are coming forward…..they have held these things inside for so long. I am sad for the people who are being accused…life has changed for them. I am not sure that life hasn’t changed for all of us.
This seems to be the next phase of female emancipation. For many years since women entered the work force there seems to have been an unwritten rule that some men in power could use that power to their advantage without fear of repercussions. In my young adult years I knew that many actresses had to sleep their way to the screen. It seemed to be the norm. The women seemed to accept it as a way of life. I am sure that some women took advantage as well.
That time has come to an end. The veil has been lifted and the actions are coming home to roost. The trouble is when people are talking about things that happened years ago there is no way to get at “truth.” Memories can be faulty and it is possible to push away those things we don’t want to see in ourselves.
I think since Pandora’s box has been opened we will see many more disclosures about abuse. This will be a major shake up for communication in the work place. We will be discovering new ways of relating to each other and hopefully things will be better. It may take a while to work this out and bring about another change in male perspective.
Anyone, male or female, who is in power can use that power for good or ill. Power can be a heady thing. Power is one of those things that we think will fill that hole that only God can fill. It has been sought instead of God since time began. Putting our priorities in the right place and seeking God first will move power to its rightful place. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all good things will be given unto you.” (from the song)
I have had a revelation! A few days ago I wrote about a dream that I had (nightmare?). It was about planning a banquet and cleaning up afterward. Two days later I was called by a friend and made a last minute lunch for four of us. Admittedly this was not a banquet but did require cooking and cleaning. Until yesterday I never connected the two things. I have no trouble understanding the dream was a message. I have seldom connected things that closely but it is evident that there is a connection. I guess I was being warned what was on the way and to be ready. You can bet I will be paying more attention to my dreams in future.
I don’t know how many of you have experienced this kind of phenomena but it has seldom happened that clearly to me. I have had experiences where I felt a strong need to call or pray for someone. Usually I listen to that urge.
When I was working as a parish nurse I had two instances where I planned visits for the day, got in the car and was pulled to visit someone else entirely. Both times the person I saw needed a visit or some sort of intervention. I have awakened in the middle of the night and knew I had to pray for someone only to find out that something had occurred and they needed prayer.
I don’t find these things to be spooky at all. They are examples of God speaking to us. Whether the impulse to pray turns out to be something or not no prayer is wasted. We have to tune in to God and follow through on impulses that clearly are God calling.
Not too long ago I belonged to a circle of women who met once a month for dinner and a program. We held the meetings at someone’s home and a light dinner was provided by the hostess. After a while ideas about diets began to be popular and things changed with the group. It was expected that the hostess would try to accommodate the dietary requirements of the members. One person became a vegetarian and that was pretty manageable. Then someone become a vegan and it got a little more difficult. Then someone didn’t eat carbs and another went gluten free. It began to feel as if water was the only choice for dinner. The group decided to eat out and let everyone make their own choices. Strangely enough, people who were on restricted diets seemed to eat whatever when eating out.
I have noticed that this is a growing phenomenon in society today. People are choosing various eating methods in order to be healthy. For people who have allergies or celiac disease or diabetes or other serious problems, it is logical to avoid certain foods. We have long known that most of us eat too many carbs and too much sugar. But we seem to have reached the ridiculous.
(How many of you have seen the movie Notting Hill where a dinner guest objects to eating carrots because they were murdered?}
I have friends who have been vegetarians or vegans for many years. They manage their diets well and usually manage at dinners without any fuss. I also know people who claim to be one or the other and really don’t understand how to manage it well.
Just as recent converts to a faith are the most stringent so the most recent converts to a diet are rabid about maintaining it. This kind of thinking makes me decide to not have people to dinner as they have few manners about pointing out their restrictions. As the group decided, it is easier to not do it. We have become picky eaters and outspoken about our desires. Others are often left feeling that they are not in step if they don’t follow.
Eating healthy is important for many reasons but let’s not be so obsessed as to make others uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their own choices. There is some implication in one of the two Genesis stories that vegetables should be our primary choice but it is up for interpretation. (Have you realized that there are two stories?) I have felt for a long time that moderation in all things is the key to living. Extremes cause problems. It’s up to you.
We had friends for lunch today. One is over ninety and fragile. His wife called yesterday saying he wanted to get out of the house and could they come and see us. That was a resounding yes and we invited another couple who are special friends of us all. This lunch was a blessing. Our aging friend is slipping and it was a joy to give him a day of pleasure.
I worked hard yesterday and today to make a good lunch and a welcoming place for he and his wife. Our other friends felt the same. This is the first time that he has been out with friends in a long time and it gave us great pleasure to be able to do this.
Planning and executing a special lunch in 24 hours can be challenging but somehow God was involved in this. I have a friend who like to say the “arangels” were at work.
I wonder how many times I have balked at something that seemed difficult at the time but was something God had in mind. It is so easy to back away and not do the thing right in front of us. Do we pay attention or do we let it slip by us? Our own agenda can so easily get in the way. We will decide that we have plans and don’t want to change them. We can choose the easy path and put ourselves first.
We need to listen to hear when these moments appear and choose in favor of the needs of others.
I woke this morning remembering the dream I had just before waking. For some reason I had provided a banquet for a large number of people and now was cleaning up mostly by myself. It was a combination between a home and a commercial kitchen. Some of the things I was cleaning seemed to be someone’s treasures and required special handling. I had been cleaning for the whole night and now was almost done but exhausted. I woke feeling that I had been working all night.
When we have dreams that we remember it is interesting to think about what they might mean or where they came from. Sometimes it is evident as something you did during the day is connected to the dream. Those dreams make sense.
I have no idea where this came from. I cook for one other person and he helps clean up after we eat. I don’t know that I have ever been left holding the bag after some group dinner.
The dream connect me to a recent Gospel read in church. It was the parable of the bridesmaids and the oil. Some of them were ready and some were not. The ones who were not ready were closed out of the banquet. The whole time I was cleaning up after the banquet I felt that I had to hurry because something else had to go on in that place in the morning. Is there a message there for me about preparing…….about being ready?
What is it that we are to do to be ready? God calls each of us to His plan for us. We each need to do keep faithful in prayer and study so that when the plan is revealed to us we are ready.