It feels good to be at work this morning after so many days at home. We are not having a normal day at all. This is finals week, and we are trying to get the semester finished off, so just the high school students are coming in today to take their exams while the elementary and middle school students stay home. I am teaching two small high school classes so I had exams to prepare (done and turned in), and I also have parents and kids dropping off writing that didn't get turned in last week, so I have piles of grading. There are notebooks that need to be graded too, and lesson plans that need to be done for January. But even though I have work to do, I feel a need to blog too, so I'm starting off with that.
So far this hasn't felt much like the Advent season, but a couple of things yesterday helped that. I've missed church the past two weeks - two weeks ago we had the elections and last week my husband had just returned from an overseas trip and was exhausted, and our car wasn't working either. Yesterday I got to go to church and that felt great. We worshiped at home on the days we missed, but it's not the same as being with our friends for worship. As always, I cried as I was overwhelmed with God's goodness and love for me - it feels so personal these days.
Last night we had a staff Christmas party; it was a rather muted version of the annual event, because of the situation. It was at school, and we sang Christmas carols together and ate and talked. I love Christmas songs, and particularly enjoyed "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," (which of course made me think of this piece, a Christmas tradition over at Tara's blog) and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem," with its "hopes and fears of all the years" met in the quiet streets of an occupied town.
Speaking of quiet streets, it rained in the night and is still raining now, and nothing is more effective at calming protests than rain. I felt conflicted about being happy about the rain. There are still so many people living in tents for whom the rain makes life miserable. But at the same time, it washed away some of the mess and the ashes from last week's burning, and it does prevent trouble in the streets. If we can just get our finals finished...
This year instead of a white Christmas, it's a black Christmas, with the dark ashes of burned tires raining down everywhere. But I don't need a white Christmas. Feeling like Christmas, for me, has nothing to do with cold weather. I have had more warm Christmases in my life than cold ones. It has to do, instead, with the music and the activities we usually have. I'm glad we got to have some of those yesterday.
And I'm glad to be at work today, with others who are committed to the mission of our school, with kids who have come in to take exams. and finish up the semester. I'm glad to be getting work turned in. These things make life feel more normal.
Christmas isn't about normal, though. It's about abnormal. It's about God reaching into the mess of humanity and saying, "Here's a gift." It's about a young girl whose hopes and dreams for her life were completely overturned. It's about those "hopes and fears" in the darkened city streets. It's about God's love right there with us in the middle of our pain and confusion, holding us together. Just holding us.
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