Monday, December 22, 2014

The cattle were lowing

The cattle were lowing.
low [loh] 
verb (used without object)

1. to utter the deep, low sound characteristic of cattle; moo.

Yes, angels heralded the birth of a baby in a manger, but in my heart, I know that the shepherds came with song. You just cannot work in a field and not be inspired to sing. No doubt the wise men who traveled many miles came with song as well. I have yet to travel that I was not humming or singing. And, to top it off, the cattle were lowing.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...", my oldest granddaughter Sydney and I sang at the top of our lungs. I was taking her home after spending precious time with her. Each time I am with her, I am reminded that she has only two more years of high school then will be off on her life journey. I cherish each and every moment of memory making. "This is more fun than the radio," she said. Yes, it was indeed. We made up our own words for those we had mumbled over the years. One by one we sang off the carols we knew. Singing interspersed with laughter. Laughter interspersed with love.

I stood at the kitchen sink, preparing lunch for my two-year-old grand twins. "Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell," Nolan's sweet voice rang out as he played with his fire truck. Only a few days before, he was just adding words when I sang: Me: Jingle. Nolan: Bell. Well, you get the idea. His father was his age when he began singing, a voice that would continue to grow with the man he became. Nolan has music in his veins. Nolan has love in his veins.

My parents stood me in front of the youth group. We were at the Greenville County Home. I couldn't have been more than three or four. A little voice singing "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed." Even now I can remember being terribly frightened as these elderly people gathered around me. The home was dark, and I was afraid. Yet, the carol would not be stilled.

We were in our usual place on the middle pew on the left side of the church. I stood on the pew between Mom and Dad. Rosie and Jess Riffell sat on the second row from the front on the right side. They had been in that same spot for as long as I could remember. Junior Shuff was playing the organ. The Royer families were there. So were the Wyans, the Fourmans, the Stagers, the Sniders, the Aukermans, the Eberweins, all the families that made up our church, the family of Painter Creek Church. We all knew the songs by heart. We sang together every Sunday. Christmas was extra special. We raised our voices in joy, sometimes mismatched harmony and always in love.

A Child was born. Music filled the air and has ever since. I believe we are filled with so much love that our voices cannot be stilled. Perhaps you will find that singing this holiday season is much better than an ipod. Find joy in being with those you love. Find the joy of a season born in love. A Child is born. Let us raise our voices, young and old. Let us raise our voices in song. Merry Christmas, my friends. May the Song of this season be made real in all we do.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

To Quote Tiny Tim

 Sharing my Neff Road blog:

The woman asked if we had any bells. She was taking her grandchildren on The Polar Express that runs along Mt. Hood and wanted to give them each a bell. Well, Hallmark did a good thing in making a Polar Express bell. She took four. I made sure that she knew the price. It was no small gift. She touched my arm and said with tears in her eyes, "This is important. Today is the anniversary of my mother's death. I want these children to remember me and these moments. I can't give them her, but I can give them me." I gave her a hug and told her that tomorrow (December 14) was the anniversary of my mother's passing. A bond. Children of another generation realizing the importance of being grandparents. Children missing their own parents, knowing the gift we can is in the memories we make.

The man stood at the ornament wall.  Being my usual nosy self, I asked if I could help him. He was looking for an ornament for a dog. They had just lost their family pet. I asked if he was doing okay. With tears in his eyes, he said, "No. I lost my mother in October and my father in November. Now this." "Do you mind if I give you a hug?" I asked. I hugged his tall frame and his body shook with sorrow.

I wondered if perhaps there was a reason that Mom left us in December. She was the spirit of Christmas to me. She opened her arms to all with a loving embrace.  I know I sometimes resented never having Mom and Dad to myself. I was young and did not fully understand the meaning of living a life in Christ. I never knew my parents to be selfish. I never saw them turn anyone away. They always managed to feed whoever came through the door. Love was abundant in our home. My parents never complained. They led by example.

I remember standing in the large window in our house in Wisconsin. The snow fell in large, silent flakes. Already the ground was covered with many inches of snow. White. The white you dream of as a child, waiting for Santa to visit. I looked up into the winter sky and thought to myself, "I wish you were up there, Santa." I was far away from Neff Road. I missed those cold winter days before the fireplace, roasting hot dogs and visiting with old friends and neighbors. I wanted Santa to come to take us back to Christmases before.

I do not live in that house back the lane on Neff Road any more, but the lessons I learned have followed me throughout my life. We are all given opportunities to love and to be loved. We are placed in situations that call for compassion, forgiveness and selflessness. To be aware of others is to be blessed. The gift of Christmas.

We don't have much snow here in Oregon, but I know that up in that evening sky hopes of young children will fly. Parents will embrace the delight in giving. And hopefully, each person will seek peace and love for everyone they meet. To quote Tiny Tim, "God bless us every one."