Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christams Reflection: Mary Olsen, Sand Point, AK

By Mary Olsen, Parishioner, Sand Point, Alaska

A diamond-facetted sky is the light I’m writing by tonight. The power is out until 3:00 A.M. because the power company is connecting the new wind towers on the hill to the electric grid making Sand Point a greener energy community. We turned up the heat before the outage and left the water running. My “wireless” computer isn’t working, so I have pen and tablet in hand in the dark.

Although it is cold outside, as I gaze at Orion’s belt and millions of other blinking stars, it is easy to imagine a swaddled newborn baby lying in a straw-filled manger surrounded by softly mewing animals and adoring young parents. Shepherds leaning on their staffs appear out of the silent night to witness the holy event. Three bejeweled wise men appear from the East on camels. They kneel and present their kingly gifts-gold, frankincense, and myrrh-to the infant. Christmas is one of those mountain top festivals.

When flying from Anchorage to the Aleutians, no matter how clear the flight starts out, gradually the shimmering white mountaintops become surrounded by a field of gray white, fluffy clouds so that all that is seen is sunny blue skies and mountain peaks. After descending through many miles of blinding clouds, one never knows what lies below-fog, windy rain, or snowy blizzard-only that you won’t see blue sky. Buy you know the sun and the mountaintops are there because you have seen them.

That’s the kind of Christmas our family is having this year. In October the family lost their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and the love of my life. There was great peace in his passing, but we learned how every person leaves such an imprint upon our lives. When they are no longer present at the table or in the conversation, we are left with memories of the person who swiped all the olives before dinner or hid peoples’ shoes so they couldn’t find them when they were ready to leave.

Rather than the family groups gathering, they will gather in small clusters and the adults will go through the motions of decorating, cooking, gift-giving for the sake of the children. But they will reflect on their own burdens and vulnerabilities as I know many others will also be doing: those who suffer from illnesses such as cancer, financial problems, unemployment, addictions-either their own or family members, domestic violence, homelessness, loneliness, military lives lost and wounded warriors coping with lost limbs and emotional trauma, and many others suffering the effects of natural disasters.

To me it is a quiet, reflective time but also one where I treasure every moment of life, search for true and deeper meanings in life, and desire to reach out and make someone happy by giving personal gifts and words to show how loved and appreciated they are for the good deeds they do while living under the clouds.

Strengthen yourselves, your families, and your neighbors because you know the eternal radiance is shining on the mountaintops. One of them is Christmas and all that it is: joy, peace, salvation, love, laughter, friends, unity, hope, and great times and memories. Have a merry Christmas, celebrate in good ways, and light up the world. Be a reflection on earth as are the stars in the night sky in the heavens.

Thank you Mary for your wonderful letter! Fr. Scott

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is poignant and beautiful. Thank you.