Blue and White Christmas

Been reading and listening to stuff that seems to match my feelings of melancholy, poignancy, bittersweet amalgamated joy and grief at this time of year. Sometimes, some expressions of cheerfulness, hurry and busyness, purposefulness and earnestness, and unalloyed success get to me, this time of year especially, maybe because Christmas seems to me, in part, a celebration of — or, the revelation of — the helplessness of love, the reality of lowliness, poverty and violence, the needfulness of surrender.

There’s really nothing grand about Christmas. I’m reminded of Madeleine L’Engle’s words, in The Irrational Season:

“He loved us enough to come to us, and we didn’t want him, and this incredible visit ended in total failure,  and this failure gives me cause to question all failure, and all success.”

These are some reflections, words, images, and music that speak to me right now. Maybe to you, too.

Living Water Undoes All Opposition (at Abel’s Voice):

“water’s uniqueness: … water cleanses and purifies; it cleans and washes away not by doing away with but by submerging what was thought impure or unwanted into the vast expanse of a river rushing and intertwined, washing the impurities out to the ocean, raising them to the sky, and returning them again, incorporated into the whole.  You reach into water but your handscome up empty. Water is formless and fluid.  Attempts at grasping don’t work: it slips through fingers.  It can’t be controlled or formed or shaped. Water can’t be pulled or poked, resisting our attempts to mold it into our own image, what we want or desire.  Water is latent potentiality. It is what might or could be, full of creative potential and fertility.  Water is nourishment and sustenance. It quenches thirst and satisfies, brings to life. ”

“What if what water washes away are our illusions, the constructs we consider so solid and important and meaningful? What if these are what the living water dissolves into its abyss?  Maybe instead of life jacket programs or swimming lesson faith designed to keep us afloat, the living water is meant to wash away all the illusionary constructs we think our lives depend on, what we think keep us afloat: our boats, skills, brains, social groups, race, gender, beliefs, money, careers, fitness routines, grades, our weapons, our power, our empire.  Maybe entering into communion with the Ground of Being is far less like shaping up and finding solid, sure theological ground or beliefs to stand on and much more like being stripped naked and plunged unprotected into a mountain stream where without the ability to swim we are held under so that something frightening and beautiful and painful and uncontrollable, really uncontrollable, is for just a moment, glimpsed.

“Water doesn’t leave things stable and opposed; it loosens them, undoing their stability and opposition until they begin to bleed into each other. Water doesn’t establish or maintain differences; it breaks them down and dissolves them into each other. Water doesn’t separate; it rather erodes and destabilizes what was once separate and set-apart. “

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Why I don’t Like Tim Tebow and What I’d Like from a Politician (at Abe’s Voice, though mostly drawn from a book by John Caputo)

“Suppose the sense of God is to interrupt, disrupt, confound, contradict, and confront all the established human orders, the human ways of doing business, the authority of man over man, and over women, animals and the earth itself, human possessiveness and dominion, to pose the contradiction of the world.  Suppose God has no time for the hierarchical power structures that human beings impose on one another and even less time for the power of God over human beings, which is actually power that human beings exert ‘in the name of God.'”

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Bruce Springsteen’s Human Touch:

“You and me, we were the pretenders
We let it all slip away
In the end what you don’t surrender
Well, the world just strips away.”

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