It’s going to be a Happy New Year’s indeed. Here is how yesterday went:
I walk out the door of Joni’s house, and the first thing I see is a little boy playing hockey behind a mound of snow. Some things about the Great White North are oh so predictable, eh? And I love it.
I decided to take some photos of all of the Canadian chains that I have missed, which may or may not be interesting to anyone besides me (and maybe Lorna, my fabulous roommate from the Toronto days who has since moved back home to N. Ireland). I visited our house yesterday too. Oh the adventures to be had when returning to a place drenched in memories. Turns out that if you take three years and don’t come back at all, then returning makes those memories seem saturated with depth and color. I mostly love that.
What I really love about being here, though, is seeing the people who composed the community around me during the couple of years I lived here. Getting to go into a New Year with old friends who I see with such scarcity makes me feel rich in the relationship department. I have so. many. people. who love me and know me and have remained dear in spite of lack of proximity.
We laugh at old memories as we are creating new ones, and it makes me hopeful and reminds me of my favorite thought time and again: that I know God’s kindness to me best because of the people he’s put in my life. We will drink coffee and wine and eat yummy food. If five year gaps occur, then they create a broad canvas to splatter with the color of life going on. I will turn my head and look into eyes that have not ceased to love me as they grin while offering advice (Thanks, Les). We will laugh at the ways we have changed and the ways we are stubbornly the same.
I love this place. I have missed it. It will be a happy ’09 indeed.
I’m not going to pretend like these photos have anything to do with a post about Toronto. I’m also not going to pretend the fact that we discovered this even begins to make sense:
First of all, Jess and I should have had a basket. Second of all, Smores tortilla chips? Right.
Yesterday I flew into Buffalo. Joni picked me up and we are plotting adventures for the next few days. I love this place. I am excited.
how long i’ve waited
to set my feet on your soil
cold and covered in blankets these days
and how long i’ve been fated
to find my way back
warm with memories packed tightly away
i pulled a few out today
and let my heart play
how long i’d wandered about
when i stumbled into you
and after so many years of wanderlusting alone
you, dear city, became my home
I haven’t been to Toronto in a few years. I get to go tomorrow. My heart is happy. There are so, so, so many people there who I love and who love me. It will be great. Will be posting as I go from there…
It might be photographic overkill. Time will tell.
“a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”
We downsized Christmas a little bit this year in the Blinn house, meaning we bought less stuff. Lessening some of the material trappings made the day more quiet and calm. The kids did not miss out on their early morning magic, however. We mainly scaled down adult gift exchanging. Meghan was sick and didn’t make it for the morning rush. I had a cold and went home after breakfast for some downtime. The Gobers and significant others came over shortly after I returned in the afternoon.
I came home early, still tired from the last few months of busy. It is a deep soul kind of tired, and January will have to be a quiet month, a month for regrouping and calm. I lit the Advent candles and did my readings for Christmas Day. Again and again this time of year the incarnation of Jesus invites deep-seated peace.
It is a striking picture we find ourselves staring at on Christmas Day as we reflect on the newborn Jesus year in and year out. History’s redemption wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger- vulnerable and tiny, loved and loathed- so much hanging on such a tiny little package… It is astounding. And hopeful.
I suppose Jesus could have come and redeemed the world he called good in one fast movement. But he didn’t.
Nine months in the womb produced a tiny baby who needed love and care and attention like any other baby. He learned to walk and talk and sing and play… And as he grew up, living human experience out through and through, he lived a story. Stepping into adulthood meant seeing people and praying for them and healing them. He lived in the context of relationship. The life of Jesus foreshadowed the death of Jesus in the way it was laid down time and again for the other and ultimately for all. The crescendo of the cross and resurrection followed a simple life: hearing God, responding in obedience and then hearing God some more.
That is hopeful because the baby who grew up to die on a cross and be raised from the dead grew up in a way that shows us how to really live. Our stories are imperfect at best and broken beyond recognition at worst. They are, however, irrevocably transformed by the reality of an incarnational God. A God who downsized himself to a little baby, this God reminds us that He came to us looking like our most fragile state. And through the way Jesus lived and died and rose again, we find both a picture of and a way to a simple life fulfilled. We can hear God. We can respond in obedience. And then we can hear God some more. In so doing, the world is transformed; our lives are redeemed.
This makes me hopeful. Merry Christmas. May you know comfort and joy.
On mornings when I don’t have somewhere to be, I wake up and get my coffee and look out the window to determine what kind of run I will have. Sun without wind this time of year generally produces a morning run.
Today, though, through the window, fog and drizzle depressed any effort at moving out the door. I ran late in the day, feeling melancholy, overwhelmed by a too long to-do list. By the time I got to running, I had shopped, been to the bank, dropped off some photos and eaten lunch. I felt hurried, frazzled. It seemed like I internalized the overcast dreariness.
In my heart I wanted to be rested, hopeful and anticipating Jesus. The one-two rhythm of my feet helped my head clear. Still, I felt anxious and tense when I got home. I do not have words mapped out for Sunday at Grace. I have cards to write and gifts to wrap. And I so, so wanted to be alone.
Tuesday nights, however, are not for alone. I spend them with Aba and Emma and Lucas these days, and we had gifts to create and cookies to bake. We had pancakes to eat and games to play. We had books to read. All before they had to go to bed. As soon I saw the kids tonight, I started shifting gears. It was effortless, as the kids needed to be cared for, and that’s what I was there to do. I snapped out of melancholy introspection. We laughed and played and talked. By the time they went to bed, my heart had engaged. Their sense of anticipation for the next few days was contagious. I started to feel a little bit more childlike. They enabled me to regain some footing I lost today as I moped around self-involved crapheadedness.
As I drove home, I felt like myself.
In my heart, tonight, I am hopeful and anticipating Jesus. I guess sometimes wanting to be alone robs me of the life others have to give. Tonight three little lives shined their light on me, pint-sized grace given freely. I love that. It’s not every day that things move so fluidly from bad to good. The days when the line seems so clearly drawn… they are sweet. Such days create hope that everything, every little thing, is being revised new.
Mondays tend to get filled with errands and catch-up and phone calls. I tend to be certain that this week (every week) will be better. This week wasn’t better. Next week when I get to resolution making time, I have to regroup on taking a day to rest each week. The fullness of life is that bubbly, contented kind of fullness then. Today it just felt dizzying, maddening. I wanted off the merry-go-round and found myself stuck, as it was moving too fast. I was afraid to jump.
When I am too busy I forget to look around and see anything. That is a plight of Western humanity I suppose.
I wonder what we miss out on.
Just a photo today. Because it’s important to remember what really matters. It’s important to be hopeful. When tired. When unsure. When weak.