Right now we are in Advent. Advent signifies the start of the liturgical year and it began this year on December 1st. The word advent isn't limited to the church. It means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.
Today was day 4, spent almost completely in bed. I woke Michael up a couple of nights ago...
I'm probably dying. I can't breathe. Everything hurts. Help.
You aren't dying, he replied.
I guess he was right because here I am. I really believed it at the time though. I had the flu. Not a cute little stomach flu like I had over Thanksgiving, but the full on FLU flu. 103 temperature, body aching, chills, so much pressure in my head I thought it would fly off my neck. Sweating. Freezing. It was horrible. It took me two days to be well enough to get out of bed to go to Urgent Care. And today, for the first time in days I started to come to. I could finally focus again.
And the world looked so extra beautiful because I haven't had the energy to participate in it lately.
We ran out last minute to buy a couple of gifts tonight.
I swear my boys like the mall as much as I do, but for completely different reasons.
Greyson lives for the escalator, but it scares Parker a little. I had him stand by himself- he clutched my pants with white knuckles, afraid. Boy does it feel good to be the safe place to be. It feels good to be needed sometimes.
Hello lady with no head.
Parker touches everything. If I close my eyes for one second he is gone, running. I love his curiosity for life. It's pretty awesome.
We follow the rules. We did NOT sit on the bed.
They didn't mention jumping though...
Or lying down.
Every day life is absolutely and honestly my very favorite. For the past few days I was desperate to take the boys to Behavior Therapy and Speech, actually missing the rushing and hustle and cursing and lateness and chaos of every day life. Today I went outside, the fresh air foreign and almost painful with each inhale. I noticed the Sierra Nevada mountains practically in my backyard. Have they always been that bold? That beautiful? It felt so good to be alive again. It felt like the advent of something new.
Life- it's such a beautiful thing, and it sometimes takes not participating in it to realize that.
As far as preparing for Christmas, we have barely done any of that.
We found the surprise you left behind today Mom! Thank you. We love you!
The flu got in the way. No tree up yet. No wrapping. I'm so ridiculously so far behind the game that right now I am at peace. In my sickness I was able to sleep, feel, and focus on the things that are important to me- like breathing. Maybe I haven't wrapped, but I've had time to prepare Him room.
Today I was finally able to read and focus again. I picked up my Bible and looked through it--while watching old Friends reruns. A super great cure for the flu, FRIENDS+ The Bible, I'm sure there's some connection. The Bible is an extremely hard read for me. It's hard for me to focus on it because the language is not one I use or hear. It's hard to understand and pay attention.
But the more years go by between Catholic school and now, the more I've started to fear the Bible. I'm just so exhausted from seeing the Bible used as an excuse to judge, hate others or point fingers. And the sacred words and parables molded to look like justification for hate or discrimination makes me sad. A good Friend told me, The Bible is like Google- you can find an argument for or against any topic you research.
I know my way isn't the only way to think, and I respect your beliefs if they are different than mine. Like Roger Ebert, one of the World's wisest thinkers said, If your religion doesn't respect the right of other religions, it is lacking something. So I try not to judge others doing the judging because that makes me just as bad. You love my boys - right? They are different but you love them anyway- just the way God made them. I hope we can say that for all people. We are all broken. We all sin. It's not our job to judge anyone. To me- I think the most important part of the Bible teaches us to love others and be kind to all people. When Jesus was on Earth he was kind to everyone, especially those that were mistreated or judged, particularly those that others called sinners. I think that is how we all are called to be- kind to all. The Bible shouldn't feel like bad or angry or judgemental or scary- it should feel like good and hopeful and uplifting. Ebert also said, I think we have to get beyond the idea that we have to categorize people. So today I put away fear and us vs them thinking, and looked at the Bible with a different, open mind and hopeful perspective. At 40, I am still trying to figure out my take on Religion. If I'm smart- I'll never have it fully figured out. I think our spirituality and religion is one of those things that evolves and changes as we grow and mature.
Last Sunday when my parents were in town, Michael and I were able to go to Church, just the two of us. I was able to focus on the words and the people around me. The candles in the Advent wreath on the alter and the Priest's vestments were colored rose, to symbolize rejoicing, and signals a spirit of joyful hope now during Advent. Sunday I saw things from a completely different perspective. I was able to really listen to the Gospel- from the book of Matthew. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 11, verse 2-6.
When John the Baptist heard in prison about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples, asking him: Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?
Jesus answered them, Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life and good news is reaching the poor. And how fortunate is the one who does not take offense at me.
I thought it was so strikingly important that Jesus didn't simply say yes. He wanted his actions, his heart and his treatment of others to do all the talking. He wanted the disciples to figure it out for themselves based on what they saw and heard- not based on what someone told them. That's a pretty amazing and timeless message. It's one thing to say, I'm a good (Christian, Human, Sister, Friend, Person) and it's a whole 'nother story to just actually BE one. It made me feel like the people who really know the Bible are the ones who use it to spread more good and make others feel good, not the ones who use it to condemn others who they think are bad.
Sunday we arrived to mass a minute before it began. Fifteen minutes later a swell of people entered the Church, all carrying young children- just like we had the week prior when we brought Greyson and Parker. I thought back to pre-child me, my eyes would have rolled in judgement- Kids are no excuse to be so late, I would have thought. It takes a lot of energy to judge others. I'm so sorry, close-minded me of the past- that at times you viewed the World so bitterly.
Two aisles over I see a Mother with 3 small children. A little girl, a little younger than Greyson laid across the ground, her dress up. I always feel this sense of shew when I see other kids act up. My eyes rose and I saw the Mother's face, and I then felt sad because the Mom was just so clearly exhausted. She did that move- when you squeeze the top of the bridge of your nose and close your eyes. It felt like sign language for help. I watched her parent in moments throughout mass- it was beautiful and full of grace. I was so proud of her for being there- even though staying home would have been so much easier. I needed to say something to her, so I walked over to her during communion. I didn't want her to think I was judging her for one second, so I started with, You're amazing. I know it's so hard to bring the kids, mine are at home right now but just last week they were with me- SCREAMING and lying down in the middle of the aisles. I know it's hard, but it's important that they are here too- and clearly you know that. I just want to say it's been an honor to watch you parent with so much grace. It's truly an inspiration. The Mother's eyes pooled with tears as she looked down modestly.
There's been so many times I've been there. Days when you feel like you are failing and that everyone is staring at you in judgement. I couldn't let that Mom go home and think anything other than she is amazing. She inspired me, simply by the way she handled her three chaotic and energetic children with grace. There have been many times where an atta girl was the only thing that got me through the day. Times the stress tasted like drowning. Times the hard and the pain felt so much bigger than life.
Sometimes what we feel we look like to others- and what we really look like are two different things completely. I'm going to think the best of you. Sometimes the person we are judging too harshly is our self. If you are there, take a deep breath and let go. I'm on your side. Your actions speak volumes of who you really are anyway.