Work won’t lighten up–each day brings its own set of challenges, sometimes craziness, frequent heartache. Today a guy showed up at church in need of gas money. I’m jaded and suspicious enough to automatically wonder what the angle is. I’ve been practicing something else though. I ask myself, “who am I to thwart the outrageous generosity of God?” With no cash of my own on hand, I was grateful our front desk volunteer had a $10 bill he put in my hands. He insisted I give this person that little bit of help on behalf of the whole church.
I walked out to our gracious, elegant foyer and saw a man sitting on one of our sofas, a man I suspect isn’t nearly as old as he looks, clothes hanging off his thin frame, literally sitting there hat in hand. He wept when I offered him the money. We hugged, I said a prayer with him, made the sign of the cross on his forehead, my faith tradition’s way of asking a blessing from our Triune God. He thanked the volunteer, they too hugged and then he left.
This year I’ve had on my planning mojo. I was able to prepare a package of very silly things that went to a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago. Today, while María was out of her residence, my friend Barbara went into her room and left the goodies on her dresser-a mug and a package of hot cocoa each for her and her roommate, some nail decals, elf clip-on ears, a letter from Maria’s good friend, Olaf the naughty elf, and a little sound box that makes slightly obscene noises. After she set up the surprise for my girl, Barbara sent me a picture. About two hours later, María called me and all I heard was one version of the obscene noises, followed by peals of laughter. She didn’t even speak–just laughed and hung up.
I was able to sit with both moments for a fairly long spell this evening. During the last couple of weeks, I have taken every free moment I could eke out of my days and evenings to work on my annual Christmas flannel PJ sewing project. It is slow and careful work for me. I still have to make my daddy’s PJ’s, but tonight I finished stitching the one for Maria–I had finished Sherod’s at the end of last week. This sewing gives me space to sort out the noise from the clear, beautiful notes of the angels’ songs during Advent. Sitting at my sewing machine, shaking my head because the flannel fabric I chose for my loved ones is so silly, I was able to revisit both moments from earlier in the day. María’s laughter and the sobs of Elmore, the man I had helped, mingle in me–they are truly the song at the heart of this season, aren’t they?
These small, insignificant steps I have taken to prepare for Christmas are my acts of subversion and rebellion. They help me see something stronger than everything that seeks to blind and silence us these days.