Thursday, December 21, 2006

The grace part is our decernment

Free Writing 12/21/06

It’s finally stopped snowing, don’t know if we’re done or not but no more snow for the moment at least. 20 inches at our house. No school, airport closed, so no Christmas visitors for us. I’m tired without really knowing why, it might be the tired that comes from being cooped up. Is that how you spell that? Hmm. My writing exercise book is upstairs and I’m not all that motivated to get it just now. I thought instead I would reflect a bit on this Christmas, which is feeling a bit strange. The quiet Christmas we envisioned is surely happening. I’ve given up some of the trappings this year. No Lebkuchen, no gingerbread house, few cookies. I don’t miss these things all that much. Certainly no one has asked after them. So they slip away. No visitors, no whirlwind visits from the grandparents, no jolly Uncle Steve, and although I do miss the family I don’t miss the rushing around that comes with it. I think back to Michael imploring us on the first Sunday of Advent not to forget the quiet of Advent. The waiting. The watching. I think of that sermon and I think to myself that we have had an advent this year. We have waited and laid low. I sent out the Christmas letter via email yesterday. I try to keep the email list light but sent the Shuler card via email on the off chance that the paper card wouldn’t find them in the world. Got a reply from Karl. He’s stuck in Chicago. He was on his way back from London for the commencement of Justin’s graduation from Grad school and for Christmas in Colorado. He won’t get here and the commencement was cancelled anyway due to the weather. I know the story of Justin and school. The cancellation of this celebration is just typical of Justin’s life. The guy just can’t catch a break. Somehow each one of his accomplishments is eclipsed in some way, not the accomplishment itself but the recognition of it. I know that Karl & Susi were looking forward to this being one shining moment. Now it is ruined. Karl put it eloquently in his email when he said two things; the first was “The child is graduating with honors…” I smiled at this line, the child in question is probably 24 or 25 years old and he is almost as big as Eric. Surely no longer a child except in his parent’s eyes… and yet maybe in this situation the reference is apropos because there is a child buried inside Justin who has been wronged. A child who struggled all the way through school constantly misunderstood and this commencement might have made up for some of the slights. The second was “I have to keep from sobbing…” I suppose you would have to know Karl to understand just how out of sync this sounds. Even though I’ve known Karl for a good fifteen years I can’t quite imagine him sobbing and yet I know this: often the disappointments of your children are more acute than your own. So maybe the Karl I know wouldn’t sob for his own account but for his son? Well, perhaps. In either way I know that this family has a hard one to swallow this Christmas, a big disappointment and then not even being together for it either. Somehow all of this should make me feel lucky because our Christmas is going as planned. Yet I still feel the melancholy creeping over me. Now that probably has nothing to do with anything other than me and my… situation. But it brings to mind the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I.” I remember Michael talking about it once and I have to agree, it’s a terrible phrase – as if God’s grace is dispensed in some inequitable fashion. We get what we get and then we deal with it. The grace part is our decernment.

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