December 22nd, today is an important day for me. First, it is the birthday of grandson Will in Nashville. Though now a young man, Will is our child who has a sunny face and stories galore. He is also, at his best, the sweetest of my four grandsons. He takes after his Dad with this quality, and it's a tough one for a boy in our culture. His Dad has learned a balance that Will has yet to find. I have confidence that he will and hope that not many more hard knocks will be needed for him to learn that taking care of oneself must come before one has what it takes to care for others. This year Will has asked family to wait until tomorrow for his birthday dinner so I can be there, sweet since I paid too much attention to the cost of my plane ticket and didn't get there today. I am honored and can't wait to celebrate Will's twentieth with him. Hard to believe that he will no longer be a teenager.
Today is also the birthday of my long-time friend Elizabeth. She is not yet sixty--young as far as I'm concerned. Elizabeth met me when we had very different lives--she, the newly hired Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, a job most had still expected a man to hold, even in the early 90s, and me, the ED of the Enterprise Fund, an experimental small business investment fund in a city where women bankers were a scarce commodity. She was there--and didn't flinch--when the old dreadful memories consumed my life. Our lives have evolved. Now we both live in Boulder County, Colorado, and focus in our own ways on our spiritual journeys. She is a blessing in my life.
I also like December 22nd because tomorrow the days will begin again to get longer--little by little for sure, but longer, more light. And it's that light that I focus on today. As an Episcopalian, I belong to a faith group that looks at the days prior to December 25th as Advent--a time of waiting, the darkness before the light of the Christmas miracle. There is beauty in that dusk before light, a heightening of perceptions that might go unnoticed in the glare of bright sun light. That is a bit like the Christmas holiday rush. We have to stop, find a quiet place, to allow the coming miracle of Christmas to seep into our hearts.
I don't pretend to believe that on a December 25th many years ago a baby named Jesus was born in a manger. I do, however, love the story. It speaks to me of new birth, new ways of being in our lives, an opportunity to change directions, even slightly, to allow Divine love to enlarge our hearts and lives. It is a miracle waiting to happen. Let's allow for darkness if that's what it takes for that love to explode within and light up our lives and that of those with whom with share this world.
And for those who light up my life -- below is daughter-in-law Margaret's induction into the Tennessee Bar, which happened this past week. I look forward to celebrating with her in Nashville!