Monday, November 17, 2008

early Christmas

Winter has finally arrived in Pittsburgh! I can't say I was exactly looking forward to it, but I do enjoy the contrast of the four seasons. The snow outside my window, the Christmas cards I'm making, and the earlier and earlier arrival of holiday stuff in stores has me really excited about Christmas!

The thing is... I am a strict "no Christmas anything before Thanksgiving" girl. But I've been bombarded by my surroundings; everything screams "Christmas"!

Without going in to a discussion about how commercialism and materialism has destroyed Christmas, the thing that makes me most sad about such an early Christmas is that we miss some important things in the days leading up to December 25th. I started seeing Christmas stuff in stores before Halloween. Ridiculous. And sad. November 1 is All Saints' Day, when we remember the dear souls who have departed. And November 27 is, of course, Thanksgiving -- a time when we give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.

I'm going to keep fighting the "early Christmas" attitude. Because I am blessed.

A Thanksgiving Prayer
by Samuel F. Pugh

"O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

happy faces part 2

I'm almost finished with Elizabeth Gilbert's wildly popular book eat pray love. Tonight I read a passage that reminded me about what I wrote a few days ago. Here it is for you:

As I focus on diligent joy, I also keep remembering a simple idea my friend Darcey told me once - that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-'n'-Stalin picture, but also on the smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people. (p. 260)

In being willing to open ourselves up and admit that we are not always the happy people that we project to all around us, we take the first step in healing ourselves. Our great God who created us in his image wants us to rejoice in this fact: we are his, he loves us, and he wants us to be happy! Only then, as Gilbert says, are we free to serve and enjoy others.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

happy faces

I was listening to a song on my way in tonight, and these are the lyrics I heard:

In the girl there's a room
In the room there's a table
On the table there's a candle
and it won't burn out

In the woman there's a song
In the the song there is hope
in the hope revolution

I believe I've blogged about this song before, with a different attitude. Today my spirit is heavy. I'm the girl, and the candle on the table in my room has gone out. I'm the woman, but I cannot sing.

Over the years I have become adept at putting on a happy face and doing what needs to be done, no matter what I am feeling. I have become so good at this, in fact, that I actually become my happy face. The pain and struggles and burdens that I feel are forgotten out of necessity -- things must be done, and I must be the one to do them. There is no time, no room for pain. But when the aching sorrow catches up with me, it hurts even more because I've forgotten about it while I was busy being the happy face.

In a few minutes, the kids will arrive for youth group, and the happy face will settle back into her face, masking my true heart from everyone -- including myself.