Alright, the 12 Weeks of Christmas Book-And is coming to a close. I realize we only made it to week 6, but after some book publicity travel and Thanksgiving, I'm turning around and wham! it's December and I so want to be intentional about these days leading up to Christmas. Writing a book about savoring the slow-born-wonder of Christmas and then not practicing what you preach...well, I'd just hate to do that...most days I'm a card-carrying hypocrite; there's no need to dig a deeper hole.
Besides, the Dirty Shame has been feeling like some show almost...book giveaways and promotional verbiage and razamataz. Maybe it hasn't felt that way to you, but it sure has to me. The Dirty Shame is a place where folks can come and warm themselves by the fire of words and phrases stoked just so. I want to try and get back to that...I'm sorry if things got off track. Please don't hear that as some pious claptrap; the world has more than enough of that...more than enough.
We spent Thanksgiving in St. Louis. My wife's cousin was married on Saturday afternoon in a gorgeous little Episcopal church in Webster Groves. Later that evening, we all converged on a banquet hall for a dinner/reception. The atmosphere was celebratory, people were laughing and carrying on...but then it happened...someone got up to "give thanks" before we ate. Now I don't know who this person was, probably some friend of the bride's family that is considered religious. I'm sure her heart was in the right place, but her words were not. She constantly invoked the great God and used the word community at least twice. I seriously thought I might start crying.
I pray with my eyes open; it's just how I do things these days. As I looked around the room whilst the great God was being intoned, it looked like that room in the White Witch's castle in Narnia, the one where everybody is frozen and blue and almost dead. Not a minute before people were full of mirth, but in two shakes of a "let us pray" the life of the party ran and hid. Fortunately, after the pray-er said amen, one of my wife's aunts (a rabid Razorback fan) said Go Hogs! And with that the spell was broken, the winter was past, and the green of spring returned as we ate and drank and were merry and abandoned all thoughts of community.
My lord. Why do we do that? I use the collective we because I've been there before many times and on more than one occasion I've been the one asked to "give thanks" and about all I did was chill things for a few seconds. Now some of you might say but John, there needs to be a distinction between the sacred and the profane, the earthly and the heavenly...a margin between the common and the divine.
"...there are no unsacred places/there are only sacred places/and desecrated places..." - Wendell Berry
Once upon a time, there was a wedding in the town of Cana. Jesus was there. The atmosphere was celebratory. A need arose in the margins of that party. Jesus stepped in, bridged it with a miracle, and the only pause that occurred was the one where the host said hey, this is even better than before, this is like, well, springtime...like warmth..like home.
Something to ponder.