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The Turning of Time

January 1, 2021

The older I get, the more that time confounds me. This year has been eons long, but high school was just the other day. My children are just kids, but my oldest will enter her twenties in less than one month. In my mind, I am still a teenager . . . or at the very least a young adult. But as I sit here, at dawn, looking at our family Christmas tree, I am flooded by enough memories for me to know, in my heart, that I am not a teenager nor a young adult. Memories of my own Christmases as a child full of excitement, as a young adult in love, as a tired parent of ecstatic children, and of quiet Christmas mornings with sleeping teenagers are enough to fill that quiet morning, or even a whole day. Enough memories alongside my best friend and lover to realize I’ve spent more of my life with him than without him. Enough memories to realize my children are the age I sort of feel I should be. Enough memories to miss, truly yearn for loved ones who are no longer here with me. 

Memory. Memory is a powerful  . . . thing? Whatever it is, it is powerful. It has the power to heal, hurt, build, destroy, open, close. Memory is the reason I can ache, thrill, laugh, cry, even taste bittersweet about things. 

Strictly speaking, Christmas is about incarnation, and the guarantee of beginnings . . . birth, promise, turnings, hope. But memories that are filling my Christmas morning take me to resurrection more than incarnation. For whatever reason, I am stuck on resurrection as I sit with so many recollections. This early Christmas morning, I remember. I re-member. I re/member. I put it all back together, weaving and winding my memories back to life. And I know it’s alive and resurrected because I can sense the very real visceral experiences that flood my body. I can smell my mother and grandmother. I can hear their oh-so-familiar voices. I can taste the foods they made (and I re/create) for us on Christmas morning. I can see and touch the ornaments given to me as a child, now hanging on my very adult tree. 

This has been a strange, hard year for so many of us. It has been cruel and destructive, full of memories we don’t want to re/member (but can, will, and must). We’ve had to actively seek out the good; To create, build, hope, and dream in spite of global pandemics, political trauma, and post-modern warfare. We have had to deliberately sow the seeds of happy memories requiring us to work, to commit, to seek community, and persist. This last year (or  has it been four, maybe ten) has been liturgy in its truest sense . . . the work of the people. 

As that wily trickster, Time, turns, may we continue to sow goodness, create beauty, and weave together memories in powerful, constructive ways. May we resurrect what is right, good, hope-filled, and life-giving. And in this season of incarnation and new beginnings, may your memories be a blessing.

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