Monday, December 23, 2013

Cigarette Butt Baby Jesus and Other December Possibilities

Today could be a very busy day, in a holiday way.  We take my spouse's brother to the Miami airport this morning, and later this afternoon, my parents arrive by car.  Somewhere in there, our new grill will arrive, and we may go over to the community college to finish getting my spouse admitted and enrolled for a music theory class.  I'll push him to take some violin lessons too.  He says he needs more theory first. 

So, here for your holiday enjoyment, a collection of observations and ponderings.

--It's surreal to be enrolling my husband, who has 2 graduate degrees, in the community college.  Will we really need to provide high school transcripts?  Undergraduate transcripts?  Should we apply for financial aid?  Does my spouse want to be non-degree seeking or will he eventually get an Associate degree to go with his graduate degrees?

--Yesterday at church, we made nativity scenes from items we found outside in the butterfly garden.  For more on that process, with photos, see this post on my theology blog.

--I found a cigarette butt on the ground that fit perfectly into the shell of a pod that I planned to use for a manger.  Thus began the discussion about whether or not a cigarette butt was appropriate for the baby Jesus.  I said, "I'm a poet.  I could make this work."

--I decided to use a dirt clump for baby Jesus and flowers in a stick for both Mary and Jesus.  But I can't stop thinking about Jesus as cigarette butt.  I don't like the idea of humanity as a cigarette butt, but it does work in the medieval way of looking at human flesh (dirty housing for our souls).

--If we accept the theology of Jesus taking on our sins, then a cigarette butt as Jesus works perfectly.  Sin as tar and nicotine.  Jesus as a filter.

--I think that approaching symbols from a different perspective is useful, whether in a theological sense, a poetic sense, or any other sense.  It's good to see the world differently, even if we decide we want to go back to seeing the world the way we've always done.

--I woke up sweltering.  The windows are open, and it feels like childhood summer evenings at my grandmother's house in Greenwood, S.C.:  humid and warm, but with a hint of coolness.  Not much like December at all.

--In the comments to this post by Historiann, a post about beliefs in Santa and in God, Contingent Cassandra says, "Interestingly, the sermon in my church this morning (on the lectionary passage, from the beginning of Matthew), focused instead on Joseph, and what one does when one’s plans have been entirely overturned, and God is saying “just go with it; good will come of this.” This same argument would, of course, work for Mary (but the annunciation isn’t included in Matthew’s account, so it hasn’t been the subject of a sermon this particular year; we’ll get back to it another year), but Joseph had more of a choice (and Mary was in much more peril, up to and including the possibility of stoning). It was a good sermon, one which I think would even work in some ways from an entirely secular viewpoint, since the emphasis was on what to do when everything seems to have fallen apart (stop, consider/discern in whatever way fits your beliefs, live into what seems like a “mess”). But the idea that one tries to listen for God’s voice in such crises is certainly distinctive to a religious viewpoint (though few if any members of my church are expecting guidance from angels, or dreams; in fact, the preacher acknowledged that that’s not part of our experience these days)."

I love this paragraph.  I love the idea of living into what seems like a mess.  Living into the mess!  Maybe that will be my motto for 2014.

--I dreamed I was reading a novel about a family in Louisiana.  Each chapter had pictures of debris, and I realized I was seeing wreckage from Hurricane Katrina.  Am I dreaming about hurricanes because it's oddly warm?  Does it portend something else?

--Just after Thanksgiving, I dreamed I was going backpacking.  It was such a vivid dream!  The mountain landscape in my dream was so beautiful.  But not only was I wearing an overstuffed and badly packed backpack, but dragging a suitcase.  Clearly I was going to have to leave some stuff behind.

--If God does speak in dreams, it's pretty clear what that dream is saying.  No matter what I've already ditched, it's time to ditch some more.

--I need to ditch my recent practice of eating cookies for breakfast and sometimes nothing else all day--or worse, eating nothing but cookies throughout the day.  Sigh.  How have I backslid this way?

--Soon the holiday season will be over, but there will still be plenty of mess to live into:  our campus will close one of 2 buildings, my brother-in-law will find a place to live in Homestead and bring his family down, and that's just the upheaval I know about.  More as it develops.

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