“You humans. When’re you gonna learn that size doesn’t matter? Just ’cause something’s important, doesn’t mean it’s not very, very small” (Frank the Pug in the movie Men in Black).
Merry Christmas, 2014! Happy New Year, 2015! For months I’ve been stuck in sleep. The last time I felt this way was Christmas of 1998, six months after my mother died. I had no idea that my soul had been smothering until my lungs snapped full in late December, and I thought, “Oh, so that’s what grief is.” Mom had passed, but she would have asked me to keep living. And now, I’m granted an epiphany, something probably obvious to everybody else, but hidden from me.
After a tough year, the Christmas story has awakened me, but not because it can be historically proven. Haggling over facts makes me want to take a nap. It’s the truth of a story that has roused me from sleep. If you’re not a Christian, please listen anyway. Play along. The Creator of All visits humanity as an infant, absolutely defenseless, not as a warrior and not majestic. “And so it was, that, while [Mary and Joseph] were [in Bethlehem], the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” These familiar details from the Gospel of Luke are small, so very, very small that they’re heartbreaking–a baby wrapped in rags and laid in a feed box. No room for him, except with the animals.
But Frank the Pug’s gravelly voice grabs the scruff of my neck and carries me away from sadness. “When’re you humans going to learn that size doesn’t matter?” (Yes, yes, go ahead and chuckle.) Size not only doesn’t matter, but it can be deceiving. Example: ants weigh as much as humans do. I can’t recall when I first learned this, but son Micah verified it for me: “When combined, all ants in the world taken together weigh about as much as all human beings.” And so, wake up, John! Sure, lousy, big, heavy stories have lots of us making Cole’s crying face, but when you place all the flecks of grace and good spirits on the scales, the world doesn’t look so bad. In fact, it shines.
Thank you, Infant Lowly, for restoring my hope, putting a little steam back in my stride, and updating the prescription for my spiritual glasses. Rubbing the bad news out of my waking eyes, I see beauty and fun clearly now.
Dear loved ones, please accept these holy, lowly flecks from my 2014. May they help you and me receive 2015’s ants of grace and good spirits.
I call myself a writer, yet my vocabulary is embarrassingly slim. When I encounter an unfamiliar word, I look it up. In 2014, I read carbuncle, which I knew is a precious stone from reading Sherlock Holmes stories, but the context told me there must be another meaning. A carbuncle, it turns out, “is [also] a red, swollen, and painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin.” Why, thank you for that update. I also stumbled on sycophant, who is a “servile self-seeking flatterer.” The synonyms tickle my teenage sense of humor: “apple-polisher, bootlicker, brownnoser, fawner, flunky, lickspittle, suckup, toady.” Lickspittle! I can’t wait to toss that one out in a conversation. I love words and consider them a blessing, though I don’t retain them very well.
I also love quotations, in part because I compiled 365 of them for a collection of daily meditations, Questions from Your Cosmic Dance, which came out in 1997. I jotted down one of my favorites from the past year on a scrap of paper and still have it. It voices wisdom I need to hear and follow.
One thing I know about the months ahead: unless I get lost completely, don’t expect me to repeat the tired grief of 2014. Sure, I’ll get sad and discouraged, but nothing can change the fact that ants weigh as much as humans. You have to look closely for very, very small flecks of grace and good spirits, but once your eyes learn to spot them, the size of the bad news doesn’t matter so much anymore.
Wonderful John, wonderful – even from the perspective of a 60 year old Jewish lady… 🙂 The sentiment is universal, and your presentation nothing short of perfect. Wishing you all the best in the New Year..
One of the truths that I have discovered in my life is “out of everything bad, comes something good” May this be a comfort to you!! In the year ahead.
Those pictures of Cole…. TOO. MUCH. CUTENESS!!!
Gah! I want to eat those cheeks!
Yes, he’s quite the yummy fellow! Gracious!
Wonderful. Mahalo for the words (“flecks of goodness” I love that) and smiles. Cheers to 2015! Christi xo
Thanks, Christi. And a great 2015 to you and yours. John
Love, love, love the photos of Cole! Also the one of Kathy and neighbor Patrick. What blessings! Best wishes for a wonderful year ahead for you and yours. Cheers, Deb
And a glad 2015 to you, too, Deb. Hope all is well with you and yours. I’m behind in keeping up with my favorite blogs, but am looking forward to catching up. Peace, John
Such a great mix of pictures and stories – they both can stand alone and tell their own story and yet can be interwoven to tell yet another one. And that Grandson of yours is adorable!
Yeah, I’ll tell you, I have a great time with those photos, especially of His Royal Cuteness, Cole. Peace and thanks, John (P.S. I’m not sure why I had to approve your comment. Sometimes I still don’t quite understand WordPress.)
Your grandson, Cole is too precious for words! He makes me smile just looking at him. I choose to look at beauty like his, rather than the other. But can we know his beauty without knowing the other? I found 2014 tough, too. Let’s have a blessed 2015.
I’ll tell you, Lily, I had no clue how powerful grandpa-love could be. It’s coloring my world for the better. I’m with you. Let’s make 2015 a hoot! Peace, John
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