|Christmas in da U.P. Yah, ya betcha. Uff Da!
These words were written in 2011, as I tried to make sense of another Christmas season, and they still ring true for the season of life I find myself in today, starting into 2014. I still struggle to find meaning in Advent, I still wander and flail and misstep on this journey from who I was to ReBorn. But if we take anything away from another Advent, I hope and pray it’s thoughts like these…
It’s never too late for hope. God’s patience is infinite, and so is His love. And if we keep seeking, keep moving, keep trying, there’s no such thing as “over” in this journey of faith. Blessings all the year long, dearhearts.
Behold, the new year rises.
Yay. Woo hoo. *insert sound of party horn here*
*insert sound of Cal coughing up a furball here*
*insert sound of literally twos of mouses clicking on various bookmarks*
These last couple of weeks of 2011 have kicked my formerly huge hiney. (Now it’s more like my formerly huge now smaller but saggy hiney. Mental imagery to give you nightmares – that’s why I’m here.) Frankly, things feel like they haven’t moved or changed at all this last month.
When I began The Advent Writings, they were a way to try and sort out the season, to find some answers to deep feelings not just about the season, but about my walk and faith in general. I wanted to see what would happen as I pushed myself to write more frequently – daily if possible, but certainly much more frequently than my normal habit of once an age. (Or twice, if things were particularly weird) In the course of this ‘experiment’ (for lack of a better term), the Lord once again reminded me of why I am compelled to write – to journal my story, to document the journey, to raise the stones and remember, and to use these words to clear some of the fog in my mind that would keep me bound in the darkness.
Does that sound selfish? Wasn’t there way w-a-y too much “I Me My Mine I MeMeMe” in that last paragraph? Shouldn’t I be saying something about encouraging others or edifying others, or at least desiring “world peace?”
(shout out to fans of Miss Congeniality 1 – Sandra Bullock, comedy genius)
These last couple of weeks have reminded me that my “forward” gear doesn’t have as much power as my “backwards” gear does. All through this month, trying to mindfully approach Christmas from a new perspective, I’ve been making some good steps. I’ve been learning things about my journey, I’ve been seeing how to walk in a new way, and I’ve been marveling in where God is bringing me in my second life. There have been moments to laugh, moments to be astonished, and moments to hang my head in shame.
And then, wham. It’s like playing a living game of Snakes and Ladders (or as it’s known in kiddie game world, Chutes & Ladders) – you’re moving along, maybe taking a ladder up, making progress… then you hit one of those pickin’ snakes, and you crash all the way back to where you started.
I hate that game. Seriously.
“Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?”
(Harrison Ford, comedy genius!)
“Laugh it up, fuzzball.”
(See? Comedy genius!)
In the last couple of weeks, it seems like all the learning, all the growing went right down the biffy on the express train to the set of Dirty Jobs. It got flushed. Step, slip, down the stinkin’ snake, back to square one, start all over. In the parlance of the Uglies series, it’s not very happy-making. In fact, in the parlance of the Cal, it’s very, very Grrrr-making.
You’d think I’d at least be able to grab some traction, to not fall as far, to slow my decent, or even hit the ground running and climbing. Nope. *wham!* Hit the floor (or whatever the heck it was that I just landed on – I really don’t want to know), gasp for air, stagger back to my feet, then look around, blinking and dazed, wondering where I am and how I got here. I don’t even recognize the scenery, which is kind of weird since I was just here not that long ago, last time the dumb snake dumped me on the express train down.
I really, really hate that game.
And now, for the light at the end of the snake… um, tunnel.
(Captain Cal, comedy dufus!)
Because God is faithful, and because He knows that we’re slip-slidin’ away (to quote the Bard, thankye Mr. Simon), He tells us to raise the stones. He tells us to put markers along the way to remind us of where He has brought us and where He is taking us. I guess I always thought of them as memorial stones or signposts – kind of like the “Somewhere In Time” spot on Mackinac Island.
(“RIIIICCHHHHAAAARRRDDDD!!!” Jane Seymour, comedy genius and Medicine Woman!)
I never thought of the stones as hand and food holds. Kind of like the things on a climbing wall that you grab and cling on to as you keep going up. Unless you’re a certified GirlyMan like me, and have never ever climbed or even been near a climbing wall, but have been the subject of much laughter and derision during gym class when the teacher said, “Olson – climb the rope!”
(My gym teacher – comedy genius and torturer du jour all rolled into one manly bundle!)
Last night, after another rough slide downward, I realized that I haven’t 1) listened to the Daily Audio Bible in 4 days, and 2) haven’t written in a week. Not for dumb reasons, just because my attention needed to be in other directions. Mostly, helping my wife clean out a storage thingie we’ve been paying rent on for about 12 years.
12 years of paying folks for the privilege of storing CRAP. Talk about a stinkin’ snake…
Anyway, after the distractions, the good, right and valid distractions, I had no handholds, and somewhere along the way had changed into my silicone bodysuit, making me very slippery and taking my wind resistance down to nil.
** I pause to allow the mental image of me in a silicone body suit to plant itself firmly in your psyche, to assault your dreams in a disturbing manner. Don’t thank me – it’s my job. **
So, onto the snake I go, sliding down, getting ready for the inevitable crash into the unmentionable at the bottom…
And I slow to a gentle stop.
Why? Because God says, “open MacJournal, read what you’ve written there, toss out hands and feet, and grab some traction. You’ve raised the stones, now look at them, read them, USE them.”
(In 2011, it was clearing out the storage area that took my time and attention. 2012, it was my 20 hour a week retail gig, and having it end. This year, I’ve been trying to finally understand and deal with both my physical and mental balances…)
So what are the stones, and why do I need them? They become handholds and footholds to stop the slide. Traction to fight the downward fall. Rubber grippers for snakeback.
“BWAAH HAAH HAAH! Take that, stinkin’ snake!”
“Hold on, little superstar – remember that whole pride-fall thing…“
Now, I’m not back where I was. I have some climbing to do. But I’m not at the bottom either, up to my nose in… um… Nope, not gonna say it. I didn’t hit the bottom, and I’m on my feet, climbing. And maybe, just maybe I’ll make it a little farther before the next slide. Maybe, just maybe I’ll catch myself faster on the way down, and not slide as far. Perhaps, just perhaps I’ll stay on my feet, get back to climbing, and make it farther yet. And hopefully, definitely hopefully, I’ll remember sooner to use my handholds and footholds. Or clip a safety line to my Partner so He can help break my fall.
Maybe I’ll get up the rope after all, and show my gym teacher my turbo-moon happy dance from the gym ceiling.
“Ahem… pride? Fall?“
“Right. Sorry. No turbo-mooning, right?”