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Season’s Grievings

7 Dec

My 3 month old son Peter died on the Feast of Christ the King, 2006. That year, it was the Sunday following Thanksgiving. As we buried him right before the start of Advent that year, many people commented to us on how the impending holidays must have compounded our grief. I won’t pretend that it was fun to pass by the “baby’s first Christmas” sleepers, or to see TV commercials where rosy-faced children are snuggling up to the hearth with homemade sugar cookies and cocoa. Our secular culture has labeled December “the most wonderful time of the year.” Needless to say, grieving the sudden death of a baby is in stark contrast to these images and can make grief seem a little fresher.

All that being said, that year I entered into Advent in a deeper and richer way than I think I ever had before. For four Sundays, we could leave the jingle bells of the outside world and enter into a sanctuary where all was quiet, and expectant, and still. Our souls were mirrored in the hauntingly beautiful liturgies. We heard Isaiah speak of the longing of God’s people to be brought back from the land of exile. We heard them pour out their sufferings and their fears. And God’s reply? I have not forgotten you. A day is coming when every tear will be wiped away, when “no longer will there be an infant who lives but a few days” (Isaiah 65:19-20).

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of penance, which I think is uniquely suited for those who suffer. Continue reading

Getting the House in Order

22 Nov

My husband Brad and I are new to the Office of Marriage and Family Life, and new to the area, as well. We moved here from Minnesota. We accepted the position right after the July 4th weekend and moved right after Labor Day. I am still tired thinking about it. Aside from purging 7 years of garage sale finds, free furniture and well-intentioned but outgrown gifts and then packing everything that was left, we also completed every project we had meant to do since we moved in. We put in a new tile floor, painted, insulated the attic, removed an old drop ceiling, changed out light fixtures, replaced gutters, remodeled a bathroom and refinished hard wood floors. We even removed ballerina wallpaper border from our daughter’s room that had bothered me since day one. By the time we left, the place looked good enough to live in!

When we told people about this flurry of home improvement activity, almost everyone nodded and mused, “Yep. Isn’t that how it always goes? You get it nice right before you go!” Usually they would then proceed to share a similar story from someone they knew, or from their own experience.

Needless to say, we wish we could have lived in our own beautifully remodeled, de-cluttered house all along, and I think it’s not an uncommon regret. In fact, several friends who helped us in this process remarked to us that we had “inspired” them. Oh, good, we thought. You are inspired to follow God’s call even if it involves doing something difficult like moving several states away? No, they would answer. We had inspired them to clean out their closets and get rid of junk so they would never end up like us! Continue reading