Sunday, December 25, 2011


Sunday reflection: It is what it is. But...

One of my least favorite expressions is "well, it is what it is." People say that when they reflect on a situation and don't acknowledge responsibility for it, or express a willingness to change it. Really, it's a variation on the theme of "That's just the way it is," which I have previously disparaged here.

People sometimes have that attitude about Christmas-- that it "is what it is." Usually, they mean that Christmas is some combination of stressful, meaningless, commercialized, and brutish.

It can be that, of course.

But, only if we choose that. It strikes me that this Christmas can be something beautiful and whole: A new palette and a blank canvas. It can be a space in which to create what we want, full of color and meaning, if we wish. It is the one Sunday this year that the Sabbath really will be observed, because everything will be closed-- we will be left to our own devices. There will be quiet, for us to fill up or let be. Either way, it can be ours.

When Christ came into the world, he brought that power and gave it to us. He broke down rules and rebuilt ethics on a foundation of empathy and love. He also came to bring agency-- the freedom to use reason to decide what that meant. Christ spoke in parables, and understanding a parable takes the work of at least two people: the teller and the hearer. As the hearer, we must fill the story with meaning, infuse it with love, make it dance with our own reality.

This day, if nothing else, is a day to remember that great gift, and begin the project.

This is just wonderful from beginning to end,and the second to the last sentence is a killer.I wish I'd written it. He's a,he's a he's a priest...he's Superprofessor. Glad I know you. Missed you at midnight mass. Guess what? Nancy sang the Creed!!!
Beautiful, Mark. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas!
Absolutely, Mark. "That's just the way it is" keeps African Americans in slavery for ... oh ... 400 years in this country, denies women the vote, winks at corruption, gives tacit approval to violence, prejudice, graft, and hate.
A recommendation to Razor Readers: A version of the Bruce Hornsby and the Range's song by that name, but cut live in the studio with the glorious Fairfield Four singing backup, including a lovely/chilling acappella fade.
Thank you, everyone! Merry Christmas from Michigan...
Got a song for you, Mark. Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun," featured on Scott Simon, Weekend Edition-Saturday yesterday. You can preview on iTunes or stream the clip.

Merry Christmas!
Reflecting upon Advent’s preparations, personal and shared here and in other posts, reveals a mosaic of traditions shared by family, loved ones and friends gathering to celebrate this Holiday Season – Many are traditions in giving.

To their recent writings, Mark (The Advent Challenge to Wealth) and Susan (What Gift will I Bring?) have added

“…As the hearer, we must fill the story with meaning, infuse it with love, make it dance with our own reality.” And

A quote by Meister Eckard
“We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son is I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.”

I believe we are asked to embrace our wealth and our riches, to acknowledge and accept our blessings, our gifts, ourselves and others. To give silently as hearers, filling our story with meaning and love – making it dance…

What Gift will I Bring? If I may...

This fall, while immersed in two large commercial projects, I received an unexpected call from a family of five requesting design help with their kitchen and dining room make-over. With no time and little desire, I struggled to reply and contemplated turning down my first referral – a project so small, the compensation barely worth the effort. My better Angels won out...

My acceptance was greeted with a “Thank you,” and a comment, “After viewing your web site, why would you even consider taking on a project like ours?”

A whisper hard while driving to meet them, suggested my efforts should be offered with a request to pay it forward. For the referral that came from his bother, their family agreed to take his brother’s to a special outing or performance, with the remainder of my design hours to be given back charitably to their parish or community.

Weeks later, during an Advent enjoyed and preparations mostly complete, I chose a first Christmas without a fir freshly cut. The savings gifted to a family member, down sized and seeking employment for more than six months - Something extra at Christmas, for her and her family. A “Charlie Brown” tree for me. Content was I, though my loved ones and friends were surprised - and a story was shared.

From my new clients a surprise did I soon receive. “Speaking of Christmas, we have 2 adults and three kids who LOVE to decorate for Christmas. If you would let us, we would love to bring a tree by your house and decorate it.”

A balsam fir proudly stands watch over my little sparse tree, a gift unexpected from loved ones for me…

What Gift can we Bring when we knee before the crèche? The riches dwelling in our heart. Unexpected blessings are a most treasured gift and they fill each of our stories with meaning, infuse them with love and make them dance with our own reality.

Thank you Mark for the insight, challenge, inspiration and a new family of friends.

God’s Blessing to all on this the Day of Christ’s Birth and throughout the New Year...
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