Like the old Army saw goes, weekend basketball tournaments involve a lot of "hurry up and wait." With one kid playing in the morning and the other kid playing in the afternoon, Lee and Ryan, Gabe and Abbie are in the Fairfax gym for the long haul. Frito pies and hot dogs, Gatorade and M&Ms take care of the physical needs, but Abbie has only brought one book. Midway through her brother's games, she finishes it..shuts the cover.....and starts over again.
Blake and I dine upon hot dogs and Frito pies, so the Meatball Soup is still simmering, untouched, and filling our house with a comforting and inviting aroma. Just in time for the back door to open upon a new, yet old, crowd of visitors: some strangers, but others making a kind of homecoming, a pilgrimage of sorts, coming back to a place with memories, familiar, yet changed. It is the kind of visit I understand in my heart and bones, a need to pass the stories on, to knit the generations together, to hold on to the past with laughter and cell phone pictures and the universal love of little kids for rocking chairs.
Sooner, not later, our family will take that same kind of walk. Through rooms echoing with the noise of holidays, birthdays, games, and music that only we can hear, full of familiar objects rooted in time, not just space. We will commit those places to our hearts, into the realm of used to be, of photographs, of happy memory.
Christmas is back...like Groundhog Day....at our church this Sunday. The Bethlehem backdrop, the manger and stable, and the little kids stacked three rows deep in the front pews, costumed as stars and shepherds....all gathered this last week of January because we don't want to let a perfectly good Christmas program go to waste because it was icy one Advent Sunday. A full house at church too, with extended families present to laugh and clap for their children and grandchildren..maybe there's something to be said for midwinter Christmas programs as a change of pace and a reminder that Jesus' season is year 'round.
What better illustration, what better way to send the congregation off with celebration in their hearts, than to witness the baptism of one these kids. What a blessing to see our Lizzie smiling at the pastor who has known her from birth, joking with him in the baptistry, professing her faith before us all. "I baptize you, my sister", says Glenn and Lizzie smiles even bigger and the church fills with gladsome applause before we pray and disperse to eat and celebrate.
It is such a week: of private joy and tears, of public emotion and celebration, of the endings and beginnings that are the very kernel of the human condition.