Friday, December 17, 2010

The Cardinals are Talking - Kirkpatrick Christmas Message

It seems the month has hardly begun, but here we are just about a week before Christmas arrives.  

We've had such a harsh couple weeks of dreary, cold weather.  My California bones can never quite adjust to such a shock in temperature -- despite our 14+ years of living in this four-seasoned South.  It all began one night with fierce winds that beat brutally against our home and kept me awake worrying if all would be in one piece come morning.  As torrents continued the next day and I looked at my busy schedule, I felt in that moment this season sometimes feels like a major sports event combined with a final exam.  When I'm not budgeting and making lists, I'm jumping and hurdling through parking lots and grocery lines.  And there was that wind, planting yet more obstacles to overcome.  As I looked around, I felt our whole community was just as scattered and volatile as the blustery air around us.  When would the peace to the season come?

I was in the toy isle now.  I shouldn't have been there. Matthew's sincere desire to keep our children from getting spoiled combined with my tendency to over-indulge brings us to a pretty good parenting team.  Christmas had been divvied out and each child's brick of gold accounted for...but I really wanted to get a little something extra for Tobes -- a new helmet to go with his new Christmas bike.  His old one was now considered, "baby-ish" and I had been lusting after the latest state of the art one ---all for a mere $67.99...?  But here was one... just  a simple one starring at me for $19.99.  Still -- it would be pushing over the stated limits we set.  I decided to just hold it a little while and look at it as I finished up my shopping.  Reaching the register I noticed the helmet had a few scratches on it, that I  hadn't noticed before.  I showed the attendant and dared to ask if there might be a discount.  She said she could only give me 10% off if I wanted it.  I said I'd think about it while she rang up the rest.  Then, coming to the end she looked at me and scanned the helmet, "Ma'am", she said respectfully, "how does $7.00 sound?"  I came home with a new helmet for Toby.

I have much to be thankful for.  This year has given our family-- especially our children, many challenges -- but they continue to amaze me as they grow with grace and maturity.  As worry crosses my face, my husband often reminds me that I am no longer a single mother and I don't have to carry the burdens alone.  Perhaps it was the viciously cold day that carried past memories of offenses taken place and the callous handling of things that continue to hurt those I love.  My heart felt so heavy and for the moment, I could not see any answers, short of miracles, that could turn things around.  I have learned that anger does nothing for my soul, so I took a few deep breathes to let out the frustration.   Reaching our neighborhood, I slowed for the ice-covered portion of road, when an astonishing flutter of red caught my eye.  There, in a completely barren and leafless tree were brilliantly red cardinals darting about.  As gusts of wind cuffed them off their branch they seemed to dance back around and find another limb to rest on. The colorful creatures seemed to be playing, while the chilly wind only added to their fun.  

I know now they were talking to me.  The prayer in my heart had been answered as the cardinals reminded me; That although life sometimes seems cold, and stark, and fruitless --- if we open our eyes to what is around us we will find there is a dazzling color of Hope.  There is Beauty.  There is Joy.  There is Life.  I am reminded today, that whether I am  worried about a little bike helmet for a child or deeper and more distressing concerns, my heart is being heard.  When life lifts us off one branch, we can dance to another.  And although the next sentence may sound like a string of oxymorons, I know, that there is great joy in our strugglings, and untold wisdom in our difficulties, peace in forgiving and humility in bearing one another's burdens.  I now believe winter was put upon this earth to remind us of hope. Because if we can have hope, we can have faith... and faith always...always... precedes the miracle.

I found my peace for the season.  I hope you will too. x

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