Sunday, January 1, 2012

Burning up the old

It's been a quiet start to 2012. After spending the week in the Palouse, my sister drove back with E and me on Friday, just in time for the yearly 'Cousins dinner' at my aunt's home in Seattle.  Because RE lives across usually snow-packed mountains, she hasn't often been part of this annual event.  It's a wild and raucous time because none of us are shy, retiring types, though apparently we're much calmer than some of our 'other' families, we agreed. Or maybe we're just used to each other. There were only 8 cousins there Friday night (which sounds like a whole lot, but of a possible still-living 22 cousins, that's merely a fraction), but with children, spouses and assorted shoes (of which there seemed to be more than there should have been piled by the front door!), it was pretty crowded in my aunt's well-loved home with a single bathroom, which seemed to have a revolving door. We should have made reservations.

But it was great fun, a wonderful tradition of our holiday.

Then Beve, RE and I drove north to our home. Yesterday we took her to our favorite restaurant by Bellingham Bay, made sure she faced the water as the sun tried to set (though it mostly just grew darker), and we talked about the year we were leaving. The night before a cousin had told me about an NPR piece in which people were asked what event, experience, attitude, etc. they'd "burn" from 2011. So that was the topic Beve, RE and I spoke of as we sat with wine and appetizers at the cusp of the year.  Because we are parents, the things that hurt them, hurt us and those hurts we'd surely burn from them as the calendar flips into January.  Relationship that hurt them, health issues that kept them from being who we KNOW God intends them to be, the worries they have about their future, the fears they have that they won't survive their present: these things we'd like to burn out of their hearts and heads so they boldly walk into this new day and month and year with confidence that "all shall be most well and all shall be most well and all matter of things shall be most well," as Julian of Norwich put it.

But we are also a son and daughters-in-laws of people who are facing end-of-life issues. RE's in-laws are not nearly where our elders are, but those days will come.  And she worries. She knows more about such days than any of her in-laws' children (though her husband lived through our mom's hard days with RE, of course).  So RE knows what might come. And how it will impact that specific family with their specific roles and reactions and relationships.  So she'd like to burn some of those old ways of reacting out of that family (even from herself) so that when the hard days come, the Prince of Peace will come as well.  Beve and I also have that same desire for a 'burning of the old' ways of being in his family so that we can be together in these last days with Grampie.  A burning out of our own bad attitudes, I suppose you might even say, so that we can welcome this new year.  With hope and trust that we will not be alone in the burden of these days.

When it comes to me, I'll admit one 'burning' desire (get that pun?): one of the most telling things about this season for Beve and me is the that it's taking a toll on our relationship. We're just so 'in it!' and I've been a toll on Beve when he's been overwhelmed with the toll of his dad.  So we take it out on each other.  THIS is what I most want burned away. We might not be able to do anything about the stress. We cannot control Grampie and Thyrza and their increasing needs, but the pressure it places BETWEEN us--this is the battle. It's where the enemy most digs at us. (How dare he? In Jesus' Name, how dare he?)

It was a meaty conversation that fed our souls along with the rich food.  And at some point I realized that our conversation had taken on the cadence of prayer. Sometimes halting, sometimes with no words whatsoever. Some of the pain we each feel might be too much to share. So we share it with God--and He knows what needs to be burned from us.   And, because we are His disciples, we can trust that He will make us new. A new day, a new month, a new year? That's nothing to Him having made us a whole new Creation when we became His.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5 :17


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