Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stargiving . . .

The author of this poem, Ann Weems, passed away this year.  She was known as the Presbyterian Poet Laureate.  I would never have known about her save for a dear friend in Colorado, D - the wife of my former pastor there.  We were Church Ladies - but it was the 80's so I usually think of us more like Renegade Church Ladies, doing things in new ways with new eyes and open hearts.  There was a group of us, and the core of those of us who are left are still in touch with each other all these years later.  Can't even tell you how happy that makes me.

We've been with each other through some wild times in all of our lives - life-altering life and death kinds of times.  Some happy.  Some devastating.  And always, there we have been - and are - with and for each other with comfort and strength and random acts of kindness and prayer.  I am the only one who is no longer in Colorado, and sometimes that's hard.  Many is the time I have wished for the chance to spend some time in their presence.  They still regularly have lunch with each other, and even though the church we attended together so long ago no longer exists, the bonds we forged with each other back then have never faltered.  I've been present for one or two lunches when I've been able to get to Colorado, and they've promised this year that they will FaceTime with me so I can be there at the next lunch, too.  I can hardly wait.

The older I get, the more I realize that the most important present (Christmas or otherwise) isn't a present you can hold in your hand - it is the presence I share in my friends' and family's lives and theirs in mine.  There is nothing more important than being loved and accepted and encouraged.  That spark of laughter, and the comfort and joy that only those who know us well can provide - these things are to be cherished and never taken lightly. 

And so this poem, from the book Kneeling in Bethlehem, has stayed with me all this time.  And every time I read it or share it, I am taken to a very special time and place in my own history, thanks to D all those years ago.  Thanks, D :-)

Happy Christmas, Everyone.

Stargiving, by Ann Weems

What I'd really like to give you for Christmas
   is a star . . .
Brilliance in a package.
   something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
   or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
   something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
   something you could hold in your hand,
   something for wonderment,
   something for pondering,
   something that would always remind you of
   God's Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God's for giving,
   and I must be content to give you words and wishes and
      packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
   as radiant as the Star
   that announced the Christ Child's coming,
   and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
   that has been given to me,
   ignited countless times by others
   who have knelt in Bethlehem's light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.