Monday, December 7, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life.

As the darkness settles in for the season, it's hard to not let it seep into your bones and psyche. This time of year always nudges me towards a more contemplative state, and recent tragedy in our area certainly has my heart heavy and my mind burdened with concern.

Life is quite bi-polar, isn't it? A potent mixture of joys and sorrows, and even an awareness of such opposition, sometimes even necessary opposition, doesn't take away the sting of pain in this world. I mean, hello, I just posted about our amazing time in Mexico, and now I feel like I'm directly following up with a heavy hitter of bah humbug.

Last week I found myself visiting a good friend who is struggling in the hospital, her situation one that is difficult to witness without feelings of irreconcilable despair. Additionally, as I sat with my piano students last week I remembered it is the one year anniversary of the unexpected and tragic death of a beaming, bright-eyed, previous student of mine, whose family we have long held dear as friends. I think about his sweet family this year with weighted sadness, unable to imagine their grief. While driving last week, my sister sent a photo of Evelyn Mae, all dressed up in a frilly tutu. As usual, I drooled over her darling face. Then suddenly, I couldn't hold back my tears. I felt so desperately sad that Mikey isn't with us in this mortal state, peering back at his own features and milky olive complexion in her cherubic little face.

And now, the recent terror attack, an unspeakably awful occurrence unfolding just a few miles from where we live. The terrorists living, quite literally, only few blocks from our own home, their house filled with thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosives, and hatred. Near MY home? This quiet, obscure pocket of the country?

It is all so very odd, the feelings that have followed this event. I've heard of the term normalcy bias: a state of mind in which we have a hard time adjusting to information that is disastrous. I feel it, this strange sense of normalcy, even with helicopters constantly hovering over our streets. I walk into stores to do some Christmas shopping, the doors flanked by security guards at every entrance of every retailer. I hear police sirens intermittently, and my heart beats more quickly than usual, nervously checking my phone to make sure there aren't any new alerts. I'm calm, and then I'm confused. What IS this world we live in?! A trip to the grocery store for a few items feels benign enough, while in the back of my mind I'm also simultaneously spying the quickest exit routes of the store, just in case I find myself in immediate risk of being SHOT or BLOWN UP?

How do people, particularly a young mother to a newborn baby, convince themselves to strap on armor and explosives to kill their neighbors? She perplexes me most. A woman. A mother. A life giver. What are these beliefs that can ensnare a mind, a mother's mind, into thinking that such cruelty makes any sense? How did this fit in her thought processes, her heart? How did it fit so well she was willing to die for it? I am frightened. I am frightened of our human capability for evil, for misjudgment, for fundamentalism, for error, for sin. Thomas Pain once said belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man, and I wonder about the God(s) and idols we each do/don't believe in; the kinds of values we live and die for, the thoughts we allow to rule our minds. What kind of people do such things make us?

This time of year holds with it so much confusion, so much darkness, so much grief. It seems instead that the sun has turned its warming gaze away from us intentionally, needing periodic breaks from its tiresome view of a world turned so upside-down.


Friday night we stayed in, and I pulled out our ornaments to decorate the tree. 

I tangled myself in corded lights from the box, weaving them circularly around freshly scented evergreen boughs. Blessed light. It's instantaneous how tinkly little lights create magic in the darkness. These sparkling bulbs lining the streets and shining through the window panes of so many homes almost make one believe that the deathly grasp of winter is the preferable state, that this really is most wonderful time of the year. Light, even in the form of $1.99 electric strands purchased from a nearby Walgreens, remind me of hope.

Next, ornament after ornament -- with all the trims of tradition -- tell the story of my children's art projects, gifts from loved ones, nonna's annual selections for each of us, and our first christmas as a married couple. We slipped and slid our little two-wheel-drive truck to the snow-filled christmas tree lot ran by the local boy scout troop, completely giddy in the snowstorm and thrilled at the prospect of decorating our small condo.

As the tree sits, accessorized to the brim with a lifetime of invaluable memories, it brings a measurable load of good cheer with it. 

Although the strands of lights have been put on the tree, there is a strict rule that they may not be turned on until the final star has been added to the top. 

Finally, we turn out every single light in the house in preparation for the grand finale.

We gather around in the dark, excited for the great moment of truth...

Ta da!!!!!!!!

 The lit tree never fails to impress, no matter the years or how ill-placed or scattered the ornamentation may be. A raucous chorus of christmas carols followed (our poor neighbors). We wish you a merry christmas, jingle bells, Silent Night. We sat together as a family under the tree, singing merrily all the way.

 I thought of the God I hope for and choose to worship. And the warmth and life it gives my soul in the cold, deadly darkness. All is calm. All is bright. 

These are my beliefs.

Light, hope, cheer, song, peace. And forever, goodwill toward all men.

{Haack Family Christmas Tree 2015!}

1 comment:

The Mrs. said...

Im praying for peace and safety!! And your little family brings Joy into this world-I am so Thankful.