In the Shadows of Christmas Eve

Shadows marched back and forth in the hall . . .

Such a dark room; I wasn’t asleep, and I wasn’t alone.

Were the others also open-eyed and alert, faking slumber?

Who were the others? Memory fails me. All of the California family on my mother’s side had gathered for Christmas on the ranch. Or, as I called it when a child, “Grandma and Grandpa’s farm.” On that way-back-when gathering, all the west-coast siblings were together. For me, they were the best aunts and uncles in the world. My cousins were also there. Our collective numbers challenged the limits of our grandparents’ house.

Who was jammed into the room with me?

Was it just us guys? Did the girl cousins have their own room or were we kids divided by age or matched by happenstance?

I can’t remember.

But who cares about roommates when it’s Christmas Eve? What I do recall is that I was a “loser:” no bed for me! Instead, in my jammies, and with a full tummy after one of Grandma’s endless meals, I was delegated to the floor. Continue reading →

No Boundaries, New Blessings

Ruth 3:1-15; 4:13-17 – The 24th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, November 8, 2015

“Ruth replied to her, ‘I’ll do everything you are telling me . . .” (Ruth 3:5)

Ruth and Naomi*
Ruth and Naomi

Once I thought differently about family.

Family was your parents and grandparents, siblings and second cousins; family was blood. It was where you were born. It was the accumulated generations of names, revered and scorned, all remembered when you gathered for the holy days. Family was place and time, us against them, common hopes and shameful failures, odd nicknames and secret recipes.

Until my daughter-in-law Ruth, I thought I knew what made a family real.

Call me Naomi, which in my language means “pleasant.” But I also call myself Mara, which means “bitter.”

For I have been bitter.

Death and I have been intimate. Continue reading →