I’ve been getting along just fine this year during this crazy and wonderful season that centers, for me, in the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I don’t have family nearby, so I am fortunate to have friends that include me in some of the festivities of these days. I’ll spend Christmas Day with three hearty and stalwart women who have become dear friends in this past year. I’ll hold a candle and sing “Silent Night” in two churches on Christmas Eve. I’ll go to a Robbie Robinson concert on Friday with friends – it’s been 20 years since I’ve heard his powerful tenor voice, and I can’t wait!
But wouldn’t you know…life has other plans just when you think you’re doing oh, so well. Yesterday, I came across a video of a beautiful, magical Luther College Christmas celebration, with its magnificent choirs. Snow. And college kids romping in the deep, fluffy white stuff. Choristers with elf hats practiced for the upcoming concert. And the concert itself – with a powerful, candlelit “The First Nowell,” blew my mind with its power and beauty. All was well. My heart was full.
Then, unexpectedly, I got caught by memories of 77 Christmases that have passed since I came into this amazing, complicated world. I saw faces that triggered thoughts of my rich years in all kinds of choirs. I watched children laughing in the snow. I remembered my children, baking cookies with their Grandma, and my Dad, making the lefse that Norwegians need for Christmas.
It didn’t stop with Christmas, though. I saw a whole album of my life’s pictures passing by, and they were so powerful that I could feel nothing but a profound gratitude. The bad stuff, the tough stuff, the painful stuff all gave way to the gift that so much of my life has been.
And then it hit me – I have already lived most of my life already! I can never do any of it again. It’s all gone. Done. Of course that’s nothing new, but for the first time, I could feel it “in my bones.” It was the joy that I was remembering. Yet for a time, it made me incredibly sad. Perhaps because so often I took it all for granted.
And I wanted to say to everyone –
live your life so that when you look back,
you are drawn to the joy that was there.
Practice gratitude every day, and that will happen.
Watch for grace to show up in unexpected ways.
Don’t take the best moments for granted.
And I want to say to myself and to you – the future has just as many opportunities for joy if we keep looking for it, finding today’s graces for the rest of our years. And not taking it all for granted. We call it “mindfulness” now.
May you be blessed in this season, and may the memories you are making now make for a rich and beautiful older age. We only go through this life once, and we have more power than we realize to make it one to remember.
And I’m very okay with that.
Much love to you all,