Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Elsewhere

Here it is, Christmas morning, and John and I are sitting in a motel room near the airport in Phoenix, awaiting the time when we check out here and check in there to go elsewhere, i.e. Grand Rapids Michigan, for a week of Christmas celebrations with family. We have never done this before, and we did it in part because we wanted to come home for Christmas and see loved ones, but we also wanted to avoid the rush and crowds and high airfares of the last time we did this. Flying on Christmas and New Year's days seemed a solution.
Sure enough, the ride into Phoenix from Sedona yesterday, Christmas Eve, was almost traffic free, and the motel is very quiet indeed. So quiet, the one restaurant is closed, and there is a skeleton crew on duty. In trips to the lobby for the coffee, bananas, and bars they are offering to guests, the only other people I have seen are airplane crews checking in after a flight from somewhere, before going off to another flight elsewhere.
Now I know we live in a very mobile, multicultural society. Lots and lots of people don't even celebrate Christmas, because that is not a part of their religion or culture. Others don't celebrate because they may think, like Scrooge, that it's all "humbug." Still others don't have family with whom they could or would even want to celebrate. And still others have to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or choose to, for some extra money. Then there are the people who are sick, or in the military, or on duty in some other way.
Whatever the reasons, the point I want to make is that I am feeling out of place somehow, as if there was something a bit wrong or unfitting with being in a motel on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and after that, on an airplane. I wonder how many others are feeling that way, maybe even a little sad, because, whatever their reasons, they are not with loved ones on this special eve and day of the year, celebrating and gifting and maybe even giving some pondering time to the meaning of this holiday, aka holy day.
This Christmas morning I have decided I will somehow honor Christmas even here in the motel room. First, I am writing this Christmas blog, and after that I will write some Christmas cards I didn't get to yet, maybe in the lobby near the big Christmas tree there. And after that, maybe I will draw some little child-like sketches of the Christmas story, inspired by a wonderful You Tube wordless telling of the Christmas story with classical music in the background, sent to me by my brother Ron.
However your are celebrating Christmas, if you are Elsewhere, like me, may your heart be filled with cheer anyway, because after all, Christmas is at heart a celebration of the heart, and can take place anywhere, when we welcome the Christ Child again to dwell in our hearts. And if you are at home with family and friends, may your celebrations be filled with the joy of knowing that absolutely nothing can ever separate you from the Presence and Joy of the Christ Child who was born in a manger but lives in human hearts everywhere and always.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can you hear a leaf sing?

A couple days ago, I took a long wonderful hike with a friend in Sycamore Canyon, an especially beautiful place south of here, where the head waters of the Verde River can be found. I took the pictures posted with this blog there. On that same night, I received this wonderful poem by a favorite poet of mine, Mary Oliver, from a friend who shares my love of poetry. The pictures and the poem seem to me to be uncannily suited to each other. But then, maybe not. Maybe you who read this blog have had the experience described by Mary Oliver in her poem, and you may even have pictures somewhere that match it, as mine do. My wish for you is that you will go out there wherever you live and listen to the leaves sing, touch the face of rocks, or let your mind reflect the beauty of your life, like the river.
Here is the poem by Mary Oliver.

What can I say that I have not said before?
So I'll say it again.
The leaf has a song in it
Stone is the face of patience.
Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it
and it will never end until it ends.

Take your busy heart to the art museum and the
chamber of commerce
but take it also to the forest.
The song you heard singing in the leaf when you
were a child
is singing still.