For the past ten years my Christmas begins and ends with the noise and frenzy of an airport, the fuss associated with air travel, and the grogginess of jet lag.
It is filled with the excitement of counting down to the days “till I fly home” and then the bittersweet countdown to the day I have to fly back.
Knowing that the number of days I have left at home is dwindling often fills me with an anxiety that leads to trying to see everyone, go everywhere and do everything that I can only see, go and do at home. Usually, as the G force of the plane taking off over the mountains pushes me into my seat, I suddenly realize “I forgot to see X.”
This past New Years day the pastor at my parish in Vancouver gave a short, beautiful homily (at the request of some of the readers and Eucharistic ministers who gave him the mandate to “keep it short and not too loud”). He spoke of the line in Gospel that tells us Mary saw everything that was happening around the birth of her son and “pondered these things in her heart.”
Maybe it was the way he paused after saying “she pondered these things in her heart” that created a deep sense of peace in the church.
I thought to myself, what if I ponder too?
What if, as the homily suggested, I ponder the year past and try to recognize the lines that were clearly not written by me, but by a divine pen? What if I try not to count the hours and minutes left at home, but absorb the experience of being at home; Of sharing coffee and cookies with my parents, of walking over to a relative’s house, unannounced, in the coastal mist, of waking up to a view of the mountains, of listening to an elderly aunt tell the story of our how our family came be in Canada, of helping to hastily organize a family dinner for 12 due to a freak power outage?
When I stopped counting and started pondering everything, even the freak power outage, seemed less like a sign pointing to an end and more like a gift.
(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)