We didn’t sleep much last night. And it wasn’t because we stayed up late to ring in the new year – we haven’t done that since maybe around when we were in seminary, so, that’s more than a decade now. But, the babies seemed to want to party, after all it was New Year’s eve, so they woke us up numerous times to tell us.
That’s not an ideal way to start out the new year – sleep-deprived and frustrated – but, I did have a few moments in between where I reflected on the last year, both the ups and downs, and what was good and hard (which was often simultaneous). 2011 gave us the biggest change in our lives, and the most incredible, wonderful miracle, as well as a bitter-sweet change in our vocations and ministry. It was so hard to say good-bye, but we knew it was right. The move out to Bloomington was relatively smooth, though difficult at times, but we enjoyed the summer here as much as possible (not much to do with two infants), and despite the storms and tornadoes. A local IU college student went missing, and that story seemed to permeate everything in Bloomington, but it was neat to see the way the community rallied around the family, which said a lot about this town. In July, we celebrated the babies’ baptisms at First Presbyterian with both grandfathers doing the baptisms, and in August we had our first vacation (at my parents’ house), and discovered what vacations would look like from now on. I’ve been trying to be diligent about writing, so joined the Write on Edge community where one of my first pieces was about autumn. I love fall, of course. There were visits from friends, we did a trip down to Charlotte for Thanksgiving, and Advent and Christmas was truly special this year.
Throughout it all I had glimmerings of revelation about my shift in roles, and my new call, how to make the most of the snippets of time and quiet, embracing the new normal, and how I am parenting so differently from what I envisioned before I became one.
2011 was full.
I have no idea what to expect in 2012. But, I don’t feel too much in a hurry to exit the Christmas season. Andy had these words in his sermon, from a Presbyterian minister, professor, and theologian, Henry Van Dyke:
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness–are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open–are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world–stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death–and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
I want step into 2012 carrying the same resolve as January 1, 2011. And, especially keep Christmas, the meaning and experience of God’s full incarnation in the world, the power of God’s grace, and to live out doxology because of it, for a while longer…