Thursday, December 30, 2010

'bye 2010

Looking over the blog in 2010 I mostly see dreamy love-baby posts, with a bit of this and that thrown in. So instead of linking to a list of posts I want to record what it is about this year that I think I'll remember in the years and decades to come. Maybe I'll come back and read it when J's ten and see if I was right.

Of course most of what I will remember is my daughter, and the many joys of living the first year of her life alongside her. She was baptized and lullabyed and photographed and comic-conned. She went from a wispy mohawk to a full head of hair, pending silk sheets to shore up the back part. She learned to crawl her own way, and to say my new favorite name - Mama.

But I will also remember this as the year that the many swirling thoughts I have about race in this country and my own racial identity began to integrate into something coherent. It's the year I really became a consultant and trainer, instead of someone who was training to be those things. It was the year that I began to get comfortable with all the changes that I flung myself headlong into in 2009 - school, motherhood, work of various sorts.

And, last but not least, this year I watched my husband discover what he was meant to do next. When we got married both of us knew that the chances of either of us winning in the lottery that is the music industry were slim to none. And that those chances weren't really why either of us played music. I have always known, on some level, where I was headed. But neither of us expected that Andrew would land in a career in the medical field, much less a job where he works with people who are at their very most vulnerable - victims of traumas and burns in the first days after their injuries. Helping them breathe and sometimes witnessing their last breaths. He is an amazing respiratory therapist. I know it because I've spent a year watching him live this vocation and fall in love with it. Next year is the one I'll look back on and remember his graduation. But this year is the year I watched, a little jealous and a lot amazed, as he discovered that helping people breathe, live, and sometimes die is just as good as a rock show, and his talent for doing it well is just as strong.

I have some ideas about what I want for 2011. They involve a good dose of the usual health-and-fitness, a little bit of increased financial discipline and a dash of even more intentional simple living. There are other plans in the works that aren't ready for public discussion just yet, but I'll be telling you all about it sometime in the next twelve months. I expect my J will get around to walking sometime soon, and continue to increase her vocabulary both signed and spoken.

As I type this Andrew is singing to J, her last lullaby of the year. We're staying in tonight - some good friends will show up a little later for games and food, and probably some champagne sometime right around midnight.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas


The babe is finally dropping off to sleep, Andrew is playing the new game he received from his father on the wii, and I am taking a break from surfing through Amazon's free book listings for Kindle to wish everyone who reads here a peaceful end to the year, and a lovely Christmas season if you are one who celebrates.

The picture above is J with her cousin T, the official Santa photo that will likely become an annual tradition, despite the fact that it is St. Nicholas and not Santa Claus who visits us. It's been a good Christmas so far - last night Andrew and J went to the peninsula to celebrate with family while I stayed behind to honor the Christ Child with my St. Paul's kiddos. This morning was just the three of us for a bit, then almost all the grandparents joined us for presents, playtime, talk time, and fun. We have more Christmas celebrations to come, which is fitting as today is but the first day of twelve.

I haven't been inspired to blog much during the advent season. If Christmas turns out to feel similar then I will see you after the new year.
love and peace,
A

Friday, December 10, 2010

old friends



This isn't a year for Christmas parties in the A+A household. What with the juggling of the wee one's sleep schedule with our own finals and work activities we're just plain tired. Seattle is dark by 4pm, earlier if it's raining, and the outside feels reflective of my insides just now: wet and worn around the edges, waiting for newness but not expecting it any time really soon.

So I was somewhat surprised at myself last night when after putting the baby to bed I ended up crowded into the bathroom, sharing the mirror with my heart-friend Carly as we dolled up to go out. Andrew smiled when he arrived home to find me in a party dress with sparkles in my earlobes and wedge heels on my feet. "Go" he said, collapsing on the bed exhausted from his twelve hour shift, "you deserve it."

It's not the same as it was years ago, when I would pick Carly up from her studio on the hill and we'd drive off for adventures with the people we made music and life with. Of that crew I'm the only one with a babe just yet, but we're all a bit older now. The parties start earlier, at 8 instead of 11, and the settings are nicer. We've ditched group-sized rentals and made homes, bought them some of us, and several of us have paired off and married each other or found the one and brought him home, as I did. But as I stepped out on Jay's deck last night with some of the sweet ones who were among the first people in my life that I chose and who also chose me I felt some sort of emotion that was deep, strong, and hard to identify. Maybe because almost a decade ago when the ties that bound us together were mostly wisps of dreaming and drama and attraction I hardly dared to hope that years later we would be clinking our glasses together this time because of friendship and abiding love.

Come back soon, Harles. ♥
(a blurry adventure..long ago.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nicholmas

Happy Nicholmas!

This morning we had a special Godly Play where our two younger classrooms got together for feast to hear the story of St. Nicholas, who is celebrated on this the second Sunday of Advent. Then, at the very end of the mass St. Nicholas visits us, bringing cookies and oranges to share with the children of the parish. I love doing this lesson, because our kids are so confused. This is only the second year that we have really celebrated St. Nicholas in our parish, so most of our children aren't yet familiar with him. They are more familiar, of course, with the secular tradition of Santa Claus. So the St. Nicholas story confuses and intrigues them. This is part of the story we tell, taken from the Godly Play material:

Nicholas loved the Christ Child and wanted to give him gifts. But he lived long after the Christ Child did. Nicholas wondered if maybe there was something of the Christ Child in every child. So he began to give gifts to children on Christmas Eve. He was shy, and so he gave his gifts in secret, leaving only the present and the delight of receiving it behind. When Nicholas was old and full of years he died, but somehow the gifts kept coming. Sometimes they were left on the front porch, or came through a window or even down the chimney!

I love this way of celebrating the secret Christmas gifts because unlike Santa, St. Nicholas isn't spending time tracking who is good and who is bad. His gifts are a celebration of something sacred that indwells every child regardless of her or his behavior. They are mysterious gifts of love and adoration, unconditional gifts that reflect the unconditional love that all children intrinsically deserve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

a thief in the night

But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

The words above closed out the gospel reading for this past Sunday, which for those who practice a liturgical Christian tradition was the first day of Advent. I've blogged here before about how different the seasons of Advent and Christmas in my religious tradition are from the secular season of Christmas - a holiday which has roots in Roman mid-winter practices more than it does anything connected to current religious practice. Advent is, for me, a time of quiet and welcome darkness, of reflection. It is the beginning of the church year, the calendar that my best self uses to mark and manage my time in the world. I have been doing my best to practice this sort of Advent in some way for a few years now but I still experience some dissonance around it each year. It isn't easy to find space for simplicity and quiet during a time that is filled with cultural pressure to buy and spend and indulge.

I also experience some dissonance around this particular reading from Matthew. I haven't been able to exactly put my finger on why in the past, other than it rings of a certain "end times" theology that I usually find unhelpful. So it wasn't until Mother Melissa's small homily at the evening mass this past Sunday that it really clicked for me why this image seems so odd.

"This is a different image of God, isn't it?" She said. "A thief in the night?"

And it's true. One stays awake to prevent what the thief is about. You don't wait in excited anticipation for the arrival of one, or for a flood, which God's coming is also compared to here. You grimly prepare, you take precautions, and in the end you deal with the aftermath of the event.

"I wonder," she said before opening the floor for reflections from others gathered around the table, "I wonder what you know of such a God?"

I thought about it. I am still thinking about it.

My experience of becoming a mother was, in many ways, like a thief in the night. Remembering the rollercoaster first month of J's life, two weeks before we knew about her and the two weeks after, I resonate with the total unexpectedness of that thief. We suffered the theft eagerly, of course, of our sleep and time and cozy two-ness. After all, like for the God of Advent, we had been waiting with great anticipation, not knowing the hour and trying our best to stay awake.

This year I look around and this time it is my wee babe who has been stolen away. There is a strong almost-toddler where the bobbly infant used to be and I find myself wondering when did that happen? What did I miss, in those times when I could not be fully awake to her, to the expected one she is ever more becoming?

I think the changes are obvious with little ones, but they happen to us big folk as well. I look at my husband and see a man who is so much more than the man I married. It would be easy to miss. It is not hard to fall asleep to our most intimate companions, or to ourselves. I wonder what part of myself I am not wakeful to, and what the creative force of change might be coming to take from me while I lay unaware and sleeping.

For me it is sometimes easier to come awake in dim light of the deep winter than to an alarm or the stark sunlight of the same time of day in a different season. I stretch gently and remember that I have toes and fingers somewhere under the blankets. My senses begin to inform me best they can about the conditions of the day - kitties on the bed, husband awake or asleep beside me, daughter stirring in the other room or still slumbering. Every day there is Mystery to enter, for the wakeful heart and eye to discover.

This Advent I hope to come ever more awake to my life, to Mystery, to the One that I am continually expecting.

Blessed Advent.