Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Thoreau said “time is but a stream I go a fishin’ in …”
Heidegger said “the meaning of being is time.”
Dr. Who said it’s “all timey-wimey.”

Time is the holy mystery that cradles our holy and mysterious lives.
I’ve been pondering time a lot of late. Perhaps that’s a hazard of middle age. Maybe it’s just the annual reflection on the past year. It could be the number of times I’ve heard people recently remark about how fast time has flown by since last year or since a graduation or since a child was born.

As we mark the birth of a child whose birth has marked time itself for 2,000 years, perhaps it’s just what we do: ponder time’s passage with a deep longing that the hopes and fears of all those years and the ones to come will somehow be met with a little bit of grace.

Time does not feel quite so fast to me just now. Thinking back over 2013, I’m struck by just how full it was for us: full of transitions, of loss, of joy, of hope, and with lots of love and laughter. Events seem to have filled the time such that it does not seem like just yesterday that Martin and I traveled to Scotland. It seems like about a year ago, which is just about right. Oh, and that reminds me: Scotland is a lovely place, but January might not be the very best time to visit! We did, however, get to see some crazy Scots playing golf in the snow on the road to Loch Ness. I reminded Martin that we’re Scotch-Irish, so we come for a hardy band! ‘Tis good to be made of stern stuff when the winds of change are blowing.

All three of our young’uns felt that wind as they lived through significant transitions this year: Hannah finished middle school and began high school; Martin began his freshman year at the University of Mary Washington; Bud graduated from UMW and began doctoral studies in computer science at the University of California Santa Cruz. As I said – big transitions!

For her part, Hannah has moved into her high school years without skipping a beat. She’s still the high-achieving, focused, strong and smart child she’s always been. As she grows into a young woman her world is growing, too. She spent her summer forlornly rooting for the hometown baseball boys and being an adventure camper at Hanover. She spent this fall trying on her running shoes on the Wakefield cross-country team, and experiencing literal growing pains with some chronic knee issues. Fortunately, the pool does not pound so much as the trail, and now that swim season is upon us she’s finding a bit more joy in her athletic pursuits. Meanwhile, she remains a remarkably good student – enough so that we can dream of her moving on to college in a few years on somebody else’s dime. Hey, parents can dream!

Martin spent the first half of the year making a movie, and thanks to everyone who supported that effort though Kickstarter. The end of that long journey is almost coming into focus, and we have realistic hopes that we’ll have a final cut of Crooked before he heads back to Fredericksburg in a few weeks for his second semester at UMW. The experiences introduced Martin to a parade of lovely, talented and interesting folks who bring to life the Appalachian music culture of Southwest Virginia, and nurtured his love for making music. (For those of you waiting more or less patiently for Kickstarter premiums: think of them as New Years presents! We trust you’ll agree that the final film was worth the wait.) Besides making a film, Martin spent the summer life-guarding at Camp Hanover before having a good first semester in college.

Bud enjoyed his final semester at UMW, graduating with a great group of friends back in May. He spent the summer interning at the same small tech firm in DC that he worked for after his junior year, but decided early on to turn down their job offer to accept a full-ride at UCSC to study games and playable media. Mom and dad do not pretend to understand exactly what that means, but it seems pretty clear that he’s both excited by and invested in a field that is growing both in the academic world and on the industry side. (In other words, he’ll have a job someday!) Living on the far side of the continent from his family, friends and long-time girlfriend has been a big adjustment, but school has been good and the chance to play ultimate Frisbee on a high level with the UCSC Banana Slugs has been a treat, as well.

Cheryl and I are living through the transitions of children growing up and beginning, in earnest, their own lives. Our own work continues to be rich and rewarding, and – shhh, don’t tell the kids – we’re enjoying the freedom of not having quite so many schedules to accommodate and transportation to arrange or provide. Oh, and no more beginning band concerts! Ever! Cheryl’s work at the big library continues to engage and challenge her, as does mine at the wee kirk.

We walked together through the sad transitions that came with the death of my father back in September. I reckon dad is busily engaged in improving the church triumphant now that his days of trying to fix the church militant are finished! He never forgot that he was part of a tradition whose motto is ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda – the church reformed and always reforming – and he was pretty sure it was his job to do the reforming! (Insert comment here about nuts and trees ….)

Meanwhile, this side of the end of our time we continue to seek the light that shines in the darkness, trusting that the darkness shall not overcome it. As the new year dawns, we hold you in that light with faith, hope and love.