O Come All Ye Faithful

When I started dating my wife, I acclimated to a tradition of her family by venturing out into the wilds of Indiana and selecting a fresh Christmas tree, cutting it down and dragging it home to decorate.  Previous to this, I had merely pulled out the dusty tree from a box in the closet and placed it in the corner, but now, here was a new exciting part of the holiday that felt exotic and exhilarating.  There is truly something invigorating about wandering in a field in the cold, crisp weather and breathing in that beautiful pine scent; the sharp odor of fresh cut wood.  I really enjoy the moments outdoors selecting our tree.

All of this is to say that yesterday, we went out again into the cold with our daughter and C.’s mom and dad and we chose our tree and it was, yet again, a serene experience to be in the company of family, participating in an old-fashioned tradition, and enjoying the beginnings of our holiday season.  Also, part of this tradition is the listening to Christmas music, particularly John Denver and the Muppets, but several other Christmas CDs as well, which leads me to my minor “conversion” moment this morning on the way to church. Notre Dame Cathedral

Now, one would think if I were already headed to church, I wouldn’t have needed a conversion moment.  And, I don’t want to alienate anyone who thinks I’ve jumped on the “crazy Christian” bandwagon, because that wouldn’t be an accurate account either.  Truth is, I attend church for a lot of reasons…one is that it’s a job, I get paid to sing.  Second, the community that is shared among the group of friends at our church is really second to none.  We, my wife and I, really enjoy the friendships we’ve made at church.  But, the main reason I attend church is that I don’t have all the answers and, honestly, there’s quite a bit of doubt.  I AM the “Thomas the Apostle” for my generation.  Still, there are clear and shining moments wherein the voice of God breaks through the cloud of mystery and doubt and floods my heart and mind.  This morning, I was going to change the cd in the stereo because we’d listened to it at least 3 or 4 times yesterday during various trips across the county, but I left it in because I wanted to hear Earl Scruggs play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.  Well, a few songs later, Patty Loveless began her version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and that is the moment that it made sense to me:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

It was an invitation; an invitation to be a part of a season, a tradition.  Sure, it specifies the faithful, but also the joyful and the triumphant.  I would venture to say that it was also an invitation to the doubtful, the disheartened and the downtrodden.  I felt a part of the faithful, not necessarily the believers, but those who have faith, however shaky it might be, that there is good and purpose in the world.  And, we’re invited to share in a community with other faithful.  I’d like to propose that the comma in that opening line is maybe premature.  Maybe, instead, it should read:

O Come All, Ye Faithful

So, during this season of Advent Aside: for those of you who didn’t go to church this morning, Advent is the season of preparation that precedes Christmas.  You won’t find it in the Hallmark card section as it goes largely unnoticed by the general populace. as we prepare for our Christmas traditions with fresh or dusty trees, fresh or dusty faiths, I’d like to believe that we’ve all been invited to attend, to celebrate in the joy of this season.

Finally, in keeping with Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 challenge, today’s “Best of” is workshop or conference.  I don’t attend many workshops or conferences.  My job is not such that it’s necessary, however, this year I did attend a marriage retreat that might fall into this category.  My wife and I, as part of the aforementioned church, journeyed down to the All Saints Conference Center in Leitchfield, KY for a short marriage retreat.  We truly enjoyed the retreat and were able to further solidify our marriage by recognizing that we share many of the same constructs for making our marriage work smoothly and joyfully with a minimum of distraction and discord.  It was a very nice weekend and I feel like it strengthened our marriage.  So, even though it’s the only one, I’d say it was the best one of 2009.

See you in the funny papers!

Resurfacing

B-dang!  I was on an absolute tear to start this month.  5 posts in 5 days…and then, zip!  Nothing!  I mean, it was like I’d gone into the witness protection program.

Now, I’ll go ahead and admit that part of that was due to IvyCat Aside: My own personal nickname for my new daughter and her subsequent needs and desires.  Babies are no joke.  They need feeding, changing, bathing, attention and, most of all, love!  C. and I have been tag teaming like Superfly Snuka and Junkyard Dog with the daily activities of our new little one and it has been an absolute rush.  I gotta be honest…I’m better at this than I thought I would be.  I was a little nervous because, y’know, babies don’t come with manuals.  Heck, they don’t even come with fortunes wrapped in a cookie with some sage advice.  But, I was born to rock babies in this rocking chair y’all!  I’m basically at one with the Force on this one, rocking her to sleep and listening to her soft, but insistent, grunts and snorts that substitute for communication.

As well, it didn’t help that we had to go back to the hospital on Monday of this week when IvyCat turned up hypothermic with no weight gain and light eating patterns at the pediatrician’s office.  So, what started out as a one-hour trip to the doctor ended up being a 48-hour stay at the hospital.  Kids…you can’t live with ’em!  So, after the urinalysis (which required a catheter), blood tests and antibiotics (which required an IV Aside: ooh, good one.  Get it, IV, Ivy…oh, shuddup!) and the ever popular LP (pronounced lumbar puncture, which she totally slept through)…turns out, she just needed to learn to eat better.  On top of all this, C. got sick while we were at the hospital.  She was shivering violently through Jeopardy…and not because I was beating her to all the answers…and she still has a wicked cough that they can’t give her anything for since she’s nursing Ivy.  So, if you’ve managed to follow along, on Tuesday night, I was watching two sick girls, one on a monitor and one on a pull out couch and I covered both admirably if I do say so myself.  C. called me a superhero, which you know does wonders for my self-esteem.

Anyway, what I came to talk about is why’n the hell did you, yes you Intertubes, let all this crazy shenanigans go down while I was otherwise engaged.  Let me recap:

  • Some blonde girl and Douche Trump were kissing each other’s rears on CNN because she answered a dumb question, from a dumb judge, during a dumb pageant and the whole world went dumb about it because they can’t decide what they hate more: gay marriage or nude pictures.  Seriously, why was this news?  Who gives a flying crapola what she thinks?  Is she some sort of enlightened guru who merely poses as a beauty queen?  Doubtful.
  • A U.S. soldier goes ape shit because his mind literally can’t handle the strain of being in combat for so many tours in a row and he kills 5 other soldiers.  Tell me this…would it not have been more mathematically convenient for the Army to agree that this guy needed serious counseling and therapy and just send him home, replacing him with one person, rather than having to replace five men/women and have to admit to their families that they should’ve known better?  Because, they should’ve known better.  We’ve known about PTSD since, I don’t know…the Battle of Marathon in 490BCE Aside: it’s true, look it up.  Documented by Herodotus apparently!  We’ve got treatment for it, but hey…let’s just go ahead and kill each other while we’re trying to kill the insurgents.  Um, that is why we’re there, right?
  • Nancy Pelosi stuck her foot in her mouth and has it wedged in there so tight that she’s having a hard time getting it out.  But, I think the problem is, she’s trying to use the other foot to push the first one out.  We all know politicians are dishonest.  Sometimes that’s how they get to be where they are.  If they weren’t dishonest, they’d never make it off the PTA.  I don’t know what she knew when she knew it, but she does and it would help if she’d get her story straight before talking about it in public.
  • Dear students of Notre Dame, let it go!  Barack Obama is president and deserves an honorary degree no less than any other high muckity-muck you’ve had speak at your hallowed institution.  Just because you have a huge mural of Jesus in the endzone doesn’t make you greater than the rest of us.  Trust me, I’m betting that any number of your previous speakers have had similar views on abortion and a host of other things you disagree with…but they all came and went without fanfare.  But, if you really don’t want to participate in your own college graduation because some guy, whose speech you won’t remember because you got absolutely lit the night before, disagrees with you on unborn babies, then I think you’re going to find that your close-minded view of the world is going to really cut down on your career choices.

So, to sum up, Intertubes, try not to let the world go to hell the next time I need a couple days off.  Fer cryin’ out loud, it was only 10 days and I was busy.  Keep an eye on things next time.

See you in the funny papers!