Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas: From Superficial to Sacred

From the Superficial

To the Sacred

With Jeremiah's very beautiful baptism experience behind us, I am officially ready to rumble. (Rumble is the appropriate word for what it's gonna take to get everything finished in time for the Christmas Eve arrival of 17 family members.) My biggest worry at the moment is getting all the shopping done, but a winter storm has realigned my list of priorities for this wet Monday. Addressing and mailing cards has now taken over the top position, but never fear, I will get enough shopping done to relieve some of the pressure. (Online commerce rules.)

I will also be attending funeral services today for a woman who has left us too soon, though not unexpectedly. 20 years ago, when I first moved into my ward, Gail was already ailing. In fact, she suffered with numerous health-related issues from the day I met her, and I met her fairly often because her daughter and mine became best friends and remained so throughout all of their school years. This devoted wife and mother was a stalwart member of the Church, one who joined over the objections of her Jewish parents and family. I always admired her courage in having made that decision. I appreciated her intelligence, as well. In fact, being in a gospel doctrine class with her was an education in itself. Gail knew her stuff, and her unique perspective as a converted Jew always added depth and interest to every lesson.

I mentioned that her death was not unexpected, but somehow that isn't really true. When her husband told me several days ago that she was in hospice, I couldn't help feeling surprised to think that the end of her life was imminent. Gail fought off pneumonia and other chronic problems so many times that I had begun to think of her as invincible.

But none of us is invincible. Not one. And that's what I'm going to be remembering today, in Gail's honor. Life is fleeting, and the time to act is now. Right now. There can be no better time than this very hour and minute to live our lives the way we came to earth to live them. There should be no ever-distant tomorrow when it comes to loving the people around us in ways they can feel, praying to our Father in Heaven and listening for answers, making time to read the scriptures, reaching for dreams that will matter, and showing our gratitude openly. The moment is now; I want to remember that.

I also want to express my thanks to a Heavenly Father who loved us enough to send His Son to earth on that first Christmas. I'm grateful for a selfless Elder Brother who wasn't afraid to offer Himself, "Here am I, send me." Christ came into the world as a sinless baby and left as a sinless sacrifice, a Savior and Redeemer who would forever take away the sting of death and give us the victory. As I think of Gail and so many others, my heart overflows with love for Him.

And that's what Christmas is really about. Not the cards and the shopping but the gifts of love and sacrifice they represent. And their Giver.

Let every heart prepare Him room. (Just assumed top priority ranking on my list).

Not that I won't be doing the Christmas cards, because I will. But I'll be doing them with a merrier, roomier heart.

And thinking of Gail.


Carolyn said...

Sweet thoughts on your friend.

You'll make it to Christmas. I know it.

karen said...

Thank you for the reminder of what is really important here. Family and holiday fun are always welcome and fun, but what really makes the season special are those quiet moments where we can reflect on our Savior's love for us, and his beautiful birth.

Amy said...

This season most certainly is a time to reflect. So many dear ones are going through such trials, or receiving such miraculous blessings it is hard to not think of Him. I am so grateful for the perspective this year has brought.

Katie Blacker said...

Is Gail someone I would know? I have a feeling I do...I am always sad to hear of death but thank goodness for the promises that come with the gospel.

That is awesome about your grandson's baptism. Those are some good days!

Karen said...

Aren't we so blessed to have a testimony of what comes next! Hoping to have a more Christ centered Holiday.


Darlene said...

It's nice that you can use a "nice" rainy day to advantage. I, on the other hand, hate the rain so much that it leaves me almost incapable of doing anything. So, in order not to waste the day, I force myself to bake. Today I made two big loaves of pumpkin bread.

I wish I could do cards, but I have to polish up my poem as I don't really like the ending I had. Oh woe, I wish I had just a little more talent.

Holidays are about family, aren't they? I really love ours because you make them so spiritual, what with our famous Christmas Eve Christmas story and then circle time, which is so spiritual. You are the best.

So sorry about your friend. Hard to lose a loved one at this time of year.

Em said...

we went to temple square for the lights and nativity scene on sat night with sean's parents. freezing cold, but made me think of mary being pregnant and having to give birth in a stable. it made me extra grateful to be able to go home and prop my pregnant self up next to our heater.

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