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Keeping Christmas Real

What if Christmas isn’t the “most wonderful time of the year”?

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

What if it’s lonely?
I’m sick,
I’m lost
It’s terminal?

What if I’m missing someone?
She’s gone away,
He’s gone to heaven
They’ve passed to I don’t know where?

What if it’s smothering?
They don’t understand
Won’t accept me back
This is as good as it’s ever gonna get?

What if I’m waiting?
I’m drumming,
I’m pacing
It’s not looking good?

Christmas isn’t wonderful then.
Not like they promised
Not like they sing
Not like the song says
Let NOT the bells ring.

Christmas is not wonderful.
But Christ still is.

Born again in us, this day.
The spirit of life,
That overcomes sickness,
finds us in our losing,
breathes life into our suffocation,
understands, accepts, keeps,
and never leaves.

Even when Christmas is not wonderful,
It’s essential.
Not what we want,
but what we so dearly,
dearly, need.

Merry Christmas, friends.

What is it about night time?

Ian, a dear young man fights for his life in the ICU all day long. Things look promising. His “numbers” improve. Everyone is hopeful. And then the night comes…and all bets are off. Tomorrow, they do this all over again.

What is it about the night fall? When darkness settles over the land. Things quiet and still.

Oh, in the ICU, nothing stops. Nurses rush in and out. Buzzers beep and indicators signal. Lights are on, though they may be dimmed, because in a split second things must spring to life. Rescuers are poised to respond.

No, there is no rest in the ICU. But somehow night is still there. A young man, fighting a courageous battle, barely knows who comes and goes, but his body knows it. He knows the night and his family prays against its coming.

Why did God make the night?

We’re told in Genesis,

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

But why? Why make the sun to shine on a rotating earth? Why couldn’t we be flat and always illuminated like a grow lamp on a garden? Everything sunny and delightful. Everyone happy and content.

Why is there darkness? Sorrow? Pain? Suffering? Why do we have dark nights of the soul? Depression in our depths? Why do Ian’s numbers plummet at night?

I don’t know. But somehow God has made the night necessary.

In human terms, even plant terms, we need the night time. To grow. To change. To re-orient. To shift. Not even just to rest. Rather, we need the night for night’s sake. Yes, night leaves us vulnerable, robs us of our accustomed visual senses. We grow restless. Fear may come. But we are not “turned off.” Just like the ICU, there is just a different level of processing, a shift in responding, a gearing down but not off. But God created the night and the day; God called the darkness night. Somehow I find that comforting.

For Ian and his family. For all others who walk through the night with a sick child or friend or family member. Even those who walk through times of darkness in relationships, including their relationship with God. I think God is powerfully at work at night. Healing. Holding. Repairing. This may be the hardest work “we” ever have to do. It takes every resource available. Exhausts all our resources. Perhaps that’s why the night comes and why it sets us back.

God promises the new will come in the morning.

This morning I smiled and celebrated a hint of light in the morning skies as my daughter dashed to the high school bus. (That was my only reason for smiling as I had just dragged her out of bed 10 minutes before and did not bring a sunny disposition to the scene.) But, the morning light teased me. It caught me by surprise.

“Look here,” it said. “It’s no longer night time, but day is dawning.”

Ah, the light comes. The springtime beckons. Hallelujah! Everything looks new and promising in the light of the morn. New possibilities. Sparkling and refreshed. God has been working this miracle for me, for us, all winter long.

So to Ian and his family, especially, I pray a beautiful morning sunrise and many, many more. May God work mightily in His healing and the night become the day.

Ian Peterson

If mind over matter works, would it matter if we adopted a Divine Mind?

Today, I feel great. Tuesday, I had a heart condition. How can that be?

Our mind is amazing, isn’t it? Tell us we are sick, we become sick. Tell us we can do it, we can. Convince us it is our lot in life to be such and such, we become such and such. This is no minor matter. Three days ago doctors suggested (not even told me, mind you) that part of my heart might not be working well. And all of a sudden that became reality to me.

By this, I don’t mean that I just believed them – intellectually. I mean that I developed symptoms to support the diagnosis they hadn’t yet confirmed. My mind made me sick.

Now before you go thinking I am totally off my rocker, I have shared the sensations I was feeling with other women I know and they say the same. That stress – deep feelings about people and events, concerns about hardship, fear, worry, uncertainty, even uncertainty over positive things – felt like chest pain to them. A feeling of pressure that they wanted to massage away. This is how it felt to me, too. Except, the reason for my stress was physical. I had a diagnosis.

But wait. It wasn’t. Just kidding. And now, guess what, no more chest pain. In fact, other aches and pains in joints are subsiding. Can stress and the power of suggestion really have this effect on my body?

Even though I am a die hard realist, trained in the sciences, I have to say yes. My mind took over my body there for a bit. And now I’m back. But I’m back wondering – because that’s what scientists do – how that happened. And what does it mean?

First, now I know why women are so much more reluctant to report symptoms of a heart attack. It feels like the empathy they’ve experienced a hundred times before. How can we know this time is different? Cardiologists, are you listening? Women need a different gauge. When you have one organ that both feels and circulates blood, how do you separate which is overloaded?

Second, I’m wondering how much my imagination runs away with me, physically. How often do I suppose something is so and then is becomes so even if it isn’t? Like, I imagine that someone doesn’t like me or is out to hurt me or will take advantage of me, and then that “thought” becomes real to me. Even if they haven’t thought it at all.

Third, can I use my mind for good? That is, can I think healthy and become healthier? Can I think forward-moving and overcome my procrastination? Can my mind really overcome my matter? Honestly, that seemed pretty far-fetched until this week. I mean, how could you connect your mind with your body that way?

But now I am wondering. Even though I can’t see the connection, I have felt it. In real time. In concrete and undeniable ways. And if mind and body are inextricably linked, should I not examine what I am thinking? Test those thoughts. See if they are true, if they are real? And should I not look at my body, my physical self – this sensation, this addiction, this behavior – and ask, might my mind be causing this?

Just introducing the thought has me wondering…Is this why we’re instructed to adopt the mind of Christ, place not only our bodies but also our thoughts in His hands? Would that not heal us?

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