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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reflections on a Haiku

 This is for all of you facing a not-picture-perfect Christmas (I know you're out there!!  It's not just me!)

A few years ago,  a little haiku came to me as I was contemplating contentment

                            Contentment is my surfboard,
                                     Skimming turbulence;
                                             Exhilarating!!

Contentment, I think, usually conjures up images of a cow in a field, chewing its cud.  No worries.
But I find that it has a much more dynamic character, actually-----the character of Christ!

So this morning, when I awoke to a Christmas Eve with the same turbulence I've been facing since the end of March, I had to add a line to my haiku-----if contentment is my surfboard, discontent is my riptide:-(

Here's what I wrote in my journal:

12.24.11   Ugh.  I can hardly muster a "Good Morning".
                 But knowing that it's You I'm greeting , I feel some measure of relief.  I know You understand my heartbreak----better than I do!   I am sore at all the stress----mostly emotional----that seems to go with this season.   "Contentment is my surboard"  indeed.   As I reflect on it, it seems that I need to know well the character of contentment, and also how discontent enters.  I need to recognize and rebuke the discontent.  A powerful tool lately has been to rehearse the fruit of the Spirit:  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.   They are my Christmas ornaments this year!   And to realize that "Think on  these things" is not just an option, it's a necessity.
          I think of Stu, and I see that in him I face a confusing outer layer of discontent.  That's what he keeps showing me, and trying to get me to wrestle on that level.  I think he must know peace on some level, though.  His eyes reflect it, and sometimes he shares thoughts and prayers that show it. 
          As I pray for him once again this morning, I ask for connection with You, Lord, recognition and the relief that it brings.  I pray for a deep humility to engulf him and win the war for his soul.  I pray for the wisdom and courage to let go of him as I love him-----not really humanly possible, but You are the one who invented miracles:-)  In You, all things are possible!
          There, I feel better-----Once again, You have breathed life into me!     Amen

Merry Christmas, my friends!  There is reason to rejoice!  




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Joy

 I've been thinking about the paradox of Joy for a long time.
My first brush with it was in 9th grade----my catholic high school had hosted a two day on-campus retreat for the students.  As my friend Janet and I walked home on the second day, we found ourselves contemplating the difference between happiness and joy.  "Happiness is temporary" we concluded, "but Joy is eternal"  Don't know if we used the word eternal, but we had hit on something.  Sometimes a 12-year-old can be pretty profound.  (We also discussed racial prejudice that day, a huge issue at the time, even though neither one of us knew a single black person in tame Ventura, California:-)  Still, we were on the right track.  "You know", Janet ruminated, "I think there are good black people and bad ones,  just like with white people.  You can't decide about someone based on their skin color".  Seriously, we were really on the way to solving the world's problems.  Unfortunately, puberty got in the way...........! 


Fast forward to the year 2000.  That's when this image of a Christmas tree, topped with Joy but woven through with the words of James 1:2-4, popped into my head.  Considering the events of the past year, it seems to me to be a very appropriate image for my Christmas greeting to you all!  Wish I could afford to send each and every one of you a handmade card, as I did that first year-----but the photo has some patches of light in it that don't appear on the original, and they make me think of Christmas lights.

Joy is a surprising (to us) byproduct of  suffering.   "For the joy set before him" it says of Jesus in Hebrews 12 as it describes his death.  C.S. Lewis titled his autobiography "Surprised by Joy" (put it on your reading list if you haven't already read it!)   And as I walk through my own little trial here, I can testify personally that I have never seen God's face so often and clearly----and that is a lasting joy, his greatest gift to me.  I guess that's what I want to end with, in this season of gift giving.  We have been given an incomparable gift already, by the Definer of all giving!  Praying that you all experience the joy!

Merry Christmas, Friends

from Sue and Stu