One More Circle … Reflections on 2009

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like 2009 really just got underway, then Christmas hit me upside the head. Anyone else experiencing that? This year really seems to have flown right by.

I remember when I was kid, it was like Christmas would never come – the months just dragged on. As a child, time just does+C62that – it drags. Kids are eager to celebrate their next birthday. They’re never five or six, they’re five and a half or six and three quarters. They’re always marking time in ways adults never do. I happen to celebrate anniversaries of my 39th birthday. Next year will be my five year anniversary.

When I reflect on this past year, however, I realize that I have done something I hate more times than I have ever done it before – fly in an airplane. I loathe flying, but because you can’t promote a book without making live, rock-star like, appearances, I have flown on more planes this year than I have ever flown in over the previous 40 some odd years – and believe me, there have been some odd years.

I’ve been everywhere it seems, Canada, California, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio – the list goes on. Over the weeks and months that I flew, however, takeoffs and landings got easier. There really was only one flight that was incredibly bumpy and uncomfortable, and another trip that took nearly 12 hours when it should have taken five, but all in all, I give a thumbs up to our air transportation system.

It hit me this week, though, that right now, each and every one of us is in flight. We’re all aboard a blue and green spaceship, hurtling through the galaxy. Every 365 days we complete our annual circle around the sun – a day we mark with celebration, with a renewed sense of ourselves, with a determination to make the next 365 days the very best that we can.

Sometimes, on this constant flight around the sun, though, I feel like I missed the safety demonstration. Though, before this year’s successful dieting plan, my seat could have certainly served as a floatation device. But, years can be rough on us – the turbulence can knock us around as we experience despair, anger, frustration, loss, or grief in our lives.

The year can also be good to us, like we’re sitting in first class, being served champagne and caviar. The joys, the triumphs, the good fortune, the dreams that come true – they come to us in equal measure throughout each year.

As we fly together on our blue green spaceship we see it all – the hunger and the plenty, the joy and the despair, the triumph and the defeat, the greed and the generosity, the new lives beginning and other lives passing away. Life aboard our spaceship is one of both bitter and sweet, of blessing and curse, of sacred and profane.

What stays consistent is God’s presence through it all – even in those times when we feel like God has abandoned us – God remains present in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the friends and family we love, and even within the very bodies that God has blessed us with.

Breathe deeply.

As we approach this New Year, I invite you to find new ways to connect with the holy and with each other. I invite you to remember that we need one another – because none of us is flying solo on this blue green spaceship called Earth.

Happy New Year!

Santa Sightings!

Here he comes again…that robust, jolly fellow with his sleigh full of gifts!

We all know (spoiler alert!) that Santa isn’t “real.” That our gifts really come from people who love us. But in their own way, they, too, are a manifestation of the love that started it all — the love from which all human love proceeds: the love of God, revealed to us in the Baby Jesus.

The love of God, in this world, must be made real largely through human beings. That’s exactly what Jesus was born to show us two thousand years ago.

Most of us won’t get a lump of coal in our stocking this Christmas. God has been good to us, even in this difficult year. That was not always true for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians — or so it seemed. For most of those two thousand years, amid the colorfully-wrapped packages, there was a lump of coal to remind us that our love — our very being — was not counted quite as real to other people as that of our straight brothers and sisters.

Here in Phoenix, where I live, there are still many LGBT young people who have no cozy home at Christmas. Tossed out of their homes by families who don’t understand them, they must do the rest of their growing up on the streets, where life is cold and hard.

My church wanted them to know they were still loved by God at Christmas. We took up a collection — successful beyond our wildest dreams — and bought the homeless LGBT teens in our city shoes, socks, blankets and personal care items this year. They were distributed through our local organization for LGBT youth.

Somewhere near you, a child still shivers in the cold. We may not be able to bring her or him “silver and gold,” as the carol proclaims, but we can, perhaps, spare some change so they might have some tangible evidence God loves them.

One surprisingly simple gesture may mean more to them than all the frankincense and myrrh in the world.

There are ways to help them throughout the year. Your local LGBT community center would be glad to help coordinate any effort you might make on their behalf.

Merry Christmas and a happy 2010 from all of us at Whosoever.