On Holidays, Kids, and Eternity

A few random thoughts:

I love the Christmas season for a variety of reasons. As a Christian, it’s a recognition of God’s love for his creation and his participation in it. (Yes, yes, I realize that Jesus probably wasn’t actually born on December 25. Work with me here.) As a citizen of my community, it’s a treat to see people giving thought to giving to each other, caring for the needy, and getting outside of themselves a bit more than usual. And as an individual, I’m delighted to get to spend time with friends that I often haven’t seen since the last time the holidays rolled around.

And yet, even the joy of seeing dear friends is tempered by the knowledge that even as we desperately try to catch up on each other’s lives in the span of a few hours, we’ll leave zillions of important things left unsaid, uncommunicated. While those few hours are infinitely better than nothing, they still pale next to the vitality of the relationships we’re able to purse on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. So many dear people — so little time.

Once again, I’m reminded of Sheldon Vanauken’s description of heaven in A Severe Mercy as timeless. (Thanks again to [Chris->] for lending me the book.) He revels in the thought of being able to dally with friends and with his wife with no sense of urgency, no rush, no frantic mental search for those vital items you’ve left unsaid — for no matter how long he takes, there will always be more time. Indeed, he echoes C.S. Lewis’ thought that the reason we humans have such difficulty with time is that we’re ultimately destined to escape it. Something to look forward to, indeed.

Another note, for my friends without children: these little rascals are what I have committed to make one of the top priorities in my life for several decades. Scarce hours go by that I don’t think of them, talk about them, and invest a part of myself in their budding lives. And while they’re anything but relaxing to be around, there is little that brings more joy than seeing them excited and thrilled with the world that we’re helping them to be a part of.

So forgive me if I give you a blank stare when you want to see me, but not my offspring. They are a huge part of me, and I of them, and not only in the biological sense. It’s hard for me to imagine that you wouldn’t enjoy their company (though perhaps you wouldn’t), but harder still to understand what it means to know me without knowing them.

That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t have a life outside of my kids. They will one day move on to have their own families, their own lives farther removed from Kathy and me. But if I want to know you, I want to read what you write, see what you paint, enjoy the photos you take, and enjoy the fruits of your creative energy. That’s part of knowing you. And at this point in my life, I’m privileged to be able to work out some of my creative energies on living canvases. If you don’t look at those canvases, you’re missing some really interesting work.