Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ups and Downs

Yeah, OK, so it’s been a while…TO’s visit, trying to get caught up with beginning of the year things—but now I’m (mostly) caught up and ready to roll!

It’s been a Tale of Two Cities week—the best of times and the worst of times, all in the same few days.

On the plus side, I cleaned out (mostly) my filing cabinet (no small chore, I assure you), had friends come over for dinner (we laughed for about three hours straight—well, as straight as we can), and had lunch with a friend from high school whom I haven’t seen for years. That was marvellous—it was as if we had seen each other a few months before, not almost 25 years. HSF (High School Friend) is as much fun now as he was then, and his partner and their son are delightful. High school friends in a way are like siblings, because they both knew you in your less-than-pretty stages! You don’t have to explain things to them as much, because you were both formed by the same things, or at least you saw each other formed, and so you know why they act the way they do. Anyway, it was a wonderful day!

On the down side, of course, was the sad saga of the West Virginia miners. I’m not related to any miners, I’ve never lived in mining country. The closest I’ve come is that some of my fellow-students in seminary were student pastors to mining communities, and I heard some of their stories. And yet this story grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. All week, through the minor crises and joys of my own life, I watched and listened to the news, saddened when the first lone body was discovered (and is anything sadder than the sister-in-law of the deceased saying stoically, she-roically, “We thought it was him before we were told that it was; it’s where he would be, to do his job, and he always did his job”?), then elated at the first news of survival Tuesday night, then waking Wednesday morning, shocked, to the stunning truth. I’m still trying to figure it out. You would think that after my visit to concentration camps in 2001, 9/11, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tsunami last year, and Katrina and the earthquakes in Pakistan this year (not to mention the wildfires that threatened a friend’s home in California, the current wildfires, the mudslides, the terrorist bombings in Indonesia and elsewhere) and all the assorted other disasters, that it would all be ho-hum, or at best a detached interest. But I found myself teary-eyed when that first miner’s body was discovered, and crying when the rumour came through that the other 12 were alive. I cried again the next morning when I found it wasn’t true, and I’ve been teary again watching the family of Mr. McCloy on TV.

So what does it all boil down to? I’ve found myself repeating my Christmas Eve sermon again and again.

“We are not alone; we live in God’s world.” As long as I can hold onto that, as long as I remember that there will be a tomorrow—and not a Little Orphan Annie tomorrow either—but a tomorrow in which God is still present, still loving this world, then I can face the griefs and fears of today and tomorrow as well. And I can face the joys and good surprises and hopes, too—because “we are not alone. We live in God’s world.”

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