Monday, December 10, 2007

Of mountains and babies

If you ever have occasion to survive the three month sabbatical of your senior pastor, with much help from the wonderful people at your church, then survive a baptism, memorial service and three church services the next week, then I would recommend a vacation immediately following.

That was my course of action last week. I left home to venture to the mountains of Denver, Colorado. You see some of my best friends in the world moved there recently (over the summer in fact). Eric and Jessa moved to Denver to pursue a Ph.D. (Eric's doing that at Illif School of Theology), a pottery business (That's Decker-Smith Pottery), and a family (their son Eli was born on October 2). Jessa made a most beautiful 7-months pregnant matron-of-honor at our wedding in August.

If ever you needed a reminder of God's mystical and magical presence in the world, then I advise that you spend a few days hanging out with a baby and seeing some mountains.

On mountains: They still take my breath away. I'm a girl from the flat land, born and raised in Kansas City, MO. The closest I got to mountains was the Ozarks, in southern Missouri. Being mountain-less for most of my life I tend to get very awe-struck. I currently live in the beautiful rolling hills of Middle Tennessee- but a short three hours or so can put me in the Great Smokey Mountains- they are stunning. But Denver, it reminded me a little of home- the land was flat, flat, flat- then BAM- mountain!! Rocky Mountains are amazing and snow-peaked and as far as I'm concerned serve to remind us that all things are possible with God. God can create some really beautiful scenery. The mountains took my breath away quite literally- I found it very difficult to breathe while I was there- or at least I had to think about breathing more. I could stare are mountains all day- I feel peaceful in their presence. I am appreciative of God's incredible creation abilities.

On babies: Wow is all I can say. Eli is an amazing little person. Such a personality for only 9 weeks old. He's starting to smile- but only if you do something really funny- he's a tough audience. It amazed me how much he looked like his Dad- I felt like I was saying hello to tiny Eric when I got off the plane. Jessa's influence is clearly alive in him as well- and you should see the way they love each other- this little family. Its all so miraculous.

I highly recommend spending some time with a baby during Advent. Here are some of the things that spending time with Eli made me think of:

  • Babies remind us not to be so selfish- everyone in the room is focused on Eli and that is a good thing. Babies are so vulnerable and precious- they deserve complete attention and that takes a very self-less kind of love. Kind of like the way God loves us- beyond all reason- crazy love. It was so relaxing to me to just hang out and not think about myself so much- or about work at all. I thought a lot about Eli though- and how cute he was- and how amazing it was to feed him or hold him as he slept.
  • God choose to come to earth- and how did God come? As a baby. Isn't that amazing? We are waiting for the birth of a Christ-Child. God in the chubby flesh of a new born child. God choose to be like us, and to walk with us for a little while. I think the gift of the baby Jesus is just as amazing as the gift of the resurrected Christ. Both gifts are beyond all my understanding for the most part.
  • I have a bone to pick with the "Silent Night" lyric writers. Again, the thing I love about Christmas is celebrating Jesus' humanity. He was a baby- and I can say with all certainty in the world that he cried. Crying is the way babies communicate with the rest of the world. He may have been a peaceful little child- but "crying he made"- I am sure of it.
Well, those are my deep thoughts on mountains and babies. I am deeply grateful for this journey and this time with such wonderful friends. I am astonished by the power of mountains and babies to make me feel more connected with God.

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