Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Eve

I could be down on the Rose Parade route all night helping to save the 170 seats my church sets up along Colorado Boulevard, but I think I'll let others do that this year. I haven't attended the parade since the first year I moved here nine years ago but will probably watch it tomorrow in seats that others have saved for 20 hours.

This morning on my way to work I drove by people under colorful golf umbrellas in the rain already staking out their spot on the grassy median at the end of the parade route. The RVs have been parked in prime locations for three days now. It is clear of rain this evening with 20 percent chance of rain tomorrow—hopefully not until after the parade, which hasn't been rained on since 1955.

The work week was busy and absorbing after a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with friends. Christmas Eve meant another church service to help prepare. So it was somewhat of a relief when it was over—and Las Posadas less than a week before. I'm beginning to understand the daunting schedule clergy have at this time of year—and I didn't even have to preach!

I hadn't heard about the tsunami when I went to church on St. Stephen's Day. I had already been wrestling with the darker side of Christmas time. This year the liturgical choice was the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first deacons in the book of Acts, or the First Sunday after Christmas, for which the Gospel reading is about the slaughter of the baby boys in Bethlehem.

I haven't watched any television yet. However, all week at work I watched the count of the dead in the headline story on the online WSJ change upwards by increments of thousands and ten thousands, sometimes hourly it seemed.

A book I had just picked up by the founder of Bread for the World, How Much is Enough: Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture, by Arthur Simon (brother of the late Illinois senator, Paul Simon), seemed a fitting read this week.

So did this excerpt from the poem, "Classifieds," by Wisława Szymborska:
Whoever's found out what location
compassion (heart's imagination)
can be contacted at these days,
is herewith urged to name the place;
and sing about it in full voice,
and dance like crazy and rejoice
beneath the frail birch that appears
to be upon the verge of tears.
[Edit 1/1/05: Changed some formatting and added a couple links.]

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