"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

25 December 2008

Not Quite Christmas

I’ve been trying all day to think of a happy Christmas message to write, but I don’t seem to have one this year. It’s been an odd break, not Christmas-like – I’m used to being with my parents this time of year, and I haven’t had the energy or inclination (hooray for end-of-semester exhaustion, plus toothaches, plus medication that adds headaches as a final insult) to be the least bit festive. Not that I’m especially able at creating that mood even at my best.

So it’s been a quiet day at home, nothing very special except for the phone calls to and from family members elsewhere. I’ve mainly spent the break, including today, sleeping and working on prep for next semester’s classes; we ordered books for the YM’s spring classes today and a few for me. And part of me has struggled with feeling sad and lonely and generally in a the-world’s-not-fair mood.

But one of my tasks has been re-reading Charles Williams’ Descent Into Hell, prepping to teach it next semester. And so I am reminded that I am not here to feel good. I am here to love God and my neighbor, to take joy not in circumstances but in Him and in His people, to bear the burdens of others as others have so often borne mine, to recognize His love in all the wild and quiet, wonderful and quotidian ways that it is manifest in this world He created, marred though it has become. Under the Mercy, as Peter Stanhope would say.

So . . . my youngest turns 18 in two days – that’s something to celebrate. We drove around town and enjoyed Christmas lights tonight – what beauty God allows us to create.* My oldest son and his family sacrificed his leave time to make the long drive to visit my parents – how God manifests His love in His children. I have a husband who loves me and does so many lovely sweet things to show it – not every wife is so blessed. I sit here surrounded by books – and how less rich my life would be without those many voices that challenge and comfort and bless me. Tomorrow, then, I shall try to remember His blessings, and not allow the inevitable sorrows of a broken world to negate His beauty that still shines forth in it. Under the Mercy . . .

* (You can see the YM’s excellent photographs from the drive, along with many others, at Vesta Photography. He’s good – really good. And I don’t think I’m overly biased . . .)

5 comments:

Publius said...

Not that you don't know this, but you also have many students who are grateful for who you are and how (and what!) you teach - not jut in class or in a syllabus, but in every interaction.

Despite uneasy irregularities, I hope in some way you do have a merry Christmas, ma'am. :)

alaiyo said...

Thank you, my friend. And in some ways it has been a merry Christmas, of course. One just has trouble seeing it at times . . .

So, 8 more days . . . I see Julie has changed her email address already! :) God bless you as you enter a whole new life . . . What a lovely couple you are!

McManus_Thinker said...

Sometimes we can't just force ourselves to be happy; I think a lot of that thinking comes from that postive attitude. Not that you should be down all the time. But I believe you should be realistic about your feelings. Christmas has become too materialistic-- that might also be the problem, too.
That Charles Williams book sounds interesting. I think I might have to check that out. I've been meaning to read up on him for a while, actually...

alaiyo said...

McManus: True, we can't force ourselves to be happy. But we can choose joy, which is a very different affair. For me, it's not materialism that's the problem, though it's a culture-wide one. For me, it's not being with some of the important people I love, and the constant struggle with depression. But God does not excuse me from joy even so . . .

Charles Williams is a remarkable novelist. His books have gone a long way toward helping me desire to live for the One who created me. I highly recommend him.

(P.S. Do I know you? :)

Andrew J. Goggans said...

You're always an inspiration.

And you're right: he's very good.

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