Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Living the Dream

Oh Christmas! The hours my siblings and I used to spend gazing at the old, chipped manger scene under the tree, the peanuts we used to "roast" on the electric light bulbs  and the plays we would practice for the grand performance on Christmas Eve--such joy. Such anticipation! These childhood memories meld with the present delights of family gathered from faraway places for a holiday together, and over all weaves the magic of twinkling lights, laughter, and the scent of cinnamon rolls and coffee.

For me, this stretch between the old year and the new seems suspended in time. Snow blankets the ground and there's a chill wind blowing as twilight creeps on, heightening the comforting fires in the fireplaces, while violin and harp music wends its way into the corners where people read (or play with their iphones or ipods). It's rather like a dream. And as too often happens with such times, beauty and perfection intertwine with lesser things (rattling windows, nose blowing, and having eaten far too much for comfort). The prosaic masks the poignant and leaves us not quite awake to its wonders.

Perhaps all of life holds this tension: The majesty, the treasure of the present cloaked in the garb of the everyday. Lacking intentionality, we can pass through golden fairytale moments with only the faintest of recognition.

Yes, too often we may walk unseeing, but in the year to come, what if we set about re-discovering childhood wonder--that state where every experience feels epic, full of all manner of possibilities? Rather than pass through time only vaguely aware of the gift each day holds, we can dream big dreams, then take them past imagination into reality. It is a year of no fences, so here's to moving forward into the unexplored. 2012 has been epic. Why should 2013 be any less!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hosting Royalty

This past week, I got to be part of an amazing event: More than 120 tables filled the huge civic auditorium, each holding 8 people and decorated with  unique holiday-themed settings. A chef-crafted meal, a team of servers in black and white, greeters, transportation crew, table bussers, kitchen staff, and more all collaborated for the effort, assisted by artists, singers, Christmas elves, and picture ops with Santa. Why? For the express purpose of honoring greatness.

The guests were not monarchs from other nations, nor lords and ladies with famous names. Media does not value or know these individuals. Many did not even value themselves. Somewhere along life's journey they had lost some if not all vision for pursuing dreams, and it was our job and our joy to speak to the treasure within them, to awaken them to hope again by reminding them of what they may have forgotten about who they are. We wanted to do this not through words, but by treating them with dignity, honor, and grace, and giving them a day to remember.

Some walked through the doors pushing all their worldly goods in little rolling basket-carts. Another left his dog tied to the bushes outside, guarding bike and backpack while big feathery snowflakes drifted down. But in spite of these and other such situations, many wished me "Merry Christmas" as they passed by, and their smiles were heartfelt. I was so impressed. One couple at my table cheerily announced they lived in a tent.  "What do you do when it snows like this?" I asked, to which they replied as if they had the best set-up ever: "We have a heater!"

 From the raucous little boys in the table behind mine to the baby dressed in Christmas best for her picture with Santa, it was the children that impressed me the most, though. I marveled at the way they immersed themselves in the wonder of the moment, and had not yet forgotten their greatness. One little boy stood up to show me how tall he was and let me feel his muscles. "I'm Daddy's strong boy," he said with a toothless grin. His sister confided that she is her daddy's brave girl, and undertook to teach me her family members' names. One child wanted to be a singer, another a writer, and as they confided this, the light of a thousand possible horizons shone in their eyes.

Our teams set about to give, but in the end, it was we who received, for we came away knowing we had gazed on something of wonder and magic. But after all, isn't that how it works when royalty comes to call?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fresh Trails

Sacramento River Trail
I love new trails! The operative word here is new. The first time I see someplace, the first time I walk or ride a trail, the first time I come around a bend and the road opens up before me is akin to magic. After that, I may become fond of the place. I may revisit the trail. But I will always want to experience it just a bit differently each time.

For me, it's about fresh horizons--seeing something I have never seen before. I've often wondered what it must have been like for mountain men like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson, or even Lewis and Clark, to go where no other save First Nations had ever gone--coming over a peak to see a mountain valley spreading out below them and to know that with their own eyes, they are gazing into timelessness. Had I gone west with the wagon trains, I would have been a scout, because they went ahead, scoped out the land, and came back to give a report.

This is not to say I thrive on danger or living on the edge of safety. I don't. Nor is this urge based on competition--I don't have to be the only one who sees it. I just want to explore, to drink in all the newness on my own, not second-hand. I want to take the journey myself, in my own way, at my own pace.

As a child, I yearned to explore the unexplored--a desert island no one knew about; a mountain valley undiscovered from the dawn of time; a cave; a ghost town; an undersea world, and I lamented that even then, there were no unknown places in my country.

I lamented because I did not know that there were whole realms that no one had broken into yet. But as I have lived my life, I have come to the great and freeing truth that all that is known is but a tiny fraction of the world in which we live. There are realms of relationship with God, with people, with myself, with all of creation, that I could explore for the rest of my life and never travel the same trail twice. Wow!

So while I may have missed my chance to be a mountain woman or a wagon train scout,  I can't tell you how exciting it is to know that I need never be confined to the known. I can go as deep, as far, as high as I am able--forge through mountains, cross rivers, swim oceans--and return to tell other journeyers that just around the corner are treasures for the seeking, horizons to be gazed on, and worlds to be explored.