Monday, December 1, 2008

The Friendship of the Lord

God is faithful; by God you were called into the fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ I Corinthians 1:9
(an Advent I reading)

Emily: Do any human beings ever realize life whole they live it? -- every, every minute?
Stage Manager: The saints and poets, maybe.
~Thornton Wilder, Our Town

I wonder whether there is anything which we do not take for granted.

I thought that I was way over on the appreciative side of the spectrum. I considered it one of the gifts of early childlhood loss. My mother and youngest brother, gone in a flash when I was seven. Some twenty-five years later I became a mother who practiced mindfulness long before she heard the term. It could all vanish so quickly; how well I knew that reality. My genuine sense of appreciation for the good gifts of motherhood did not relieve the tedium of years of wipes and dipes, but it did make it possible for me to look and listen, always, for the grin, the gurgle of pleasure, the boast of achievement, the shy smile of success, the blond hair in the sunlight.

But it wasn't enough. We can never be aware of one another, appeciate one another, enough. I could have taken note of every single minute, every single second, and it would not be enough to compensate me now for the loss of my child.

We take this season and the birth of our God into human form for granted, too. Put aside the commercial excesses, extended this year to the horrors of violence in the marketplace. Put aside the trivia and sentimentality. Even when we pay attention, our own daily preoccupations prevent us from comprehending what we are about at this time of year.

Paul could not have sounded the claim that we are called into fellowship with the Son of God unless there is, in fact, a Son of God. A God who shrugged on human form, was carried in human arms, grew into human companionship, died at human hands. A God who as our human friend remains faithful and always with us, even until the end of time. Paul's assertion is astonishing, really, and yet there it is.

Even when we are so lost in sorrow that awareness and appreciation are far, far out of reach.

Even when we cannot know.

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