While I have been nursing a sick cat back to health, it has been the season to celebrate. Funny how celebration and not-so-good stuff often collide. This is perhaps meant to prevent us from separating the different parts of our lives and to keep us from isolating our emotions and situations into tidy coping compartments. I believe that life is to be lived together, as a whole, in one big family room instead of every situation behind its own closed door. Each life event affects the next one, and one can laugh in the midst of tragedy and cry at a celebration because joy and pain live in the same universe in a strangely beautiful and companionable way that makes life rich and deep and meaningful.
I had three Christmas events to go to this week and each one was wonderful and fun and special in its own way.
ONE: Our home group got together to sit around the fire, roast marshmallows, make s'mores, sip wine, eat disturbing amounts of chocolate, and play charades. At the end of the evening, someone asked for each one's New Year's resolutions. While I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions as a rule (I would rather live in a learning and responsive attitude at all times, not just once a year), I said that I wanted to recognise Jesus better in my life. I am fairly good at seeing his work around me in various situations, but I do sometimes have trouble seeing his beauty in the people around me, especially the ones I would not have chosen to be part of my cool set of friends if it were left up to me. I guess if it were left up to me, smelly shepherds and immature virgins might not have been part of the incarnation story either. Good thing these things are not left up to me. Yes, let me see where Jesus lives.
TWO: I organised the first annual Vineyard Montreal Christmas office party this year. Since I am the only employee, I realised that if I didn't do it, no one else would! I met up with 3 friends of the female persuasion and we went out for dinner, then hopped on the subway and met up with another friend at Second Cup where we exchanged gifts over big cups of tea and hot chocolate. I had asked everyone to bring a recycled gift - something you have at home that you are not using anymore or never had a use for. Silly as it sounds, this was the best gift exchange I think I have done in a long time. People welcomed the idea of passing something on instead of buying something new - we all have so much stuff anyway. The excitement came in making sure everyone had something they liked and would use; it was so touching to see some girls offer to give up their gift if they thought it suited someone else more. The focus was not in the gift, but truly in the giving. This small exchange of not so new things warmed me more than the chai tea on that cold night. Oh, and then we played some pool. Very nice evening, indeed.
THREE: Our church had a party last night. We sang carols, listened to a Christmas story, prayed for each others' strengths and weaknesses, made packets of chocolates and candy canes and distributed them to the other tenants on the second floor of our building, snacked on wine and cheese and bread and various other tidbits, and then turned up the tunes and danced to some Latin music. In the midst of this celebration, there was some informal counselling going on in the hallway, a few people were saying prayers for each other, and some deep discussions were happening on the couch. And there was a cohesiveness in this, a family sort of oneness where each person could be themself; it was okay to laugh while someone else cried and cry while someone else was doing the salsa.
Make your own celebration. Live, laugh, cry, talk, eat, and give. All at the same time.
This is a blurry picture of Tea the day she came home from the vet, sporting her yellow bandage and a shaved leg from the intravenous fluid and not wanting to do much else besides lie on my shoulder (photo credit to Dean). She is much better now, eating and drinking without too much coaxing.