all day friday, i couldn't stop thinking about michael, my ex. even though we didn't really talk for quite awhile (about 2 years, really), in the last few months we've stayed more connected in each other's lives and i found out right around thanksgiving that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. as soon as i heard the news, i sensed that the end was near. it's weird - it reminded me of when my grandmother went into the hospital just before she died. even though her prognosis at first looked moderately favorable, i knew that was it.
anyway, the last month or so, i've been - for obvious reasons - very concerned for him and his family and prayerful that they could all be fully at peace with one another in his dad's last days....
friday night i learned through a friend's blog that his dad died 10 days ago and the funeral was that afternoon. my heart broke when i found out the news, even though i had been expecting it. it's hard to find out something like this and to feel so remote. all i can do is pray for them - that they would know some measure of peace and comfort in the midst of all of this....that they would all actively sense the presence of a God who loves them intimately and personally, even though they might not see him with their physical eyes.
which brings me to christmas. this year i've sought to place the majority of my focus on a child and a family whom i do not know - whom i will never know - to help bring them some joy, some idea that someone out there cares for them, in the midst of what must be an otherwise difficult time. and the fact that i can do this for these people fills me with such joy, i cannot even explain it.
i know that the gifts i gave (and salimah gave as well) were physical things, but as we bought them, i asked God to love them through the things....to help them sense the presence of someone whom they cannot see but who loves them deeply and personally. and really, that's why Christ came - to make a way for such a relationship.....to give earthly evidence of the kind of love that God has for each of us - a deep, personal, intimate love that started even before we came to this place.
i want to keep with me the brokenness of loss and the hope of promise all at once. i don't want to lose my sensitivity to what's going on around me, in the lives of friends and loved ones, people i no longer know or ever will. we all need the same thing. michael's dad needed it. those children need it. i need it. we need to know we're not alone. we need to know that someone loves us deeper than we can fathom. and somehow this Christmas, i'm believing that God can remind me - all of us - that He does. in our sickness and depravity, in our triumphs and our losses, on Christmas and Hanukkah and solstice and the second tuesday of the month, in the desert of iraq, in our suburban ennui, when we're mean to one another, when all hope is gone, He does.