How have your “Holidays and Holy Days” gone so far? For me they officially started with the annual Jr.-Sr. Backpacking Trip (which has now been dubbed “Back to the Wild”). It was a great walk in the woods for a few days and the only incidents encountered were a few tents that leaked. Still, everyone in the group maintained a great attitude and I returned with the same number of campers I left with.
There was one casualty. On the first day of hiking my hands were starting to swell a bit, which is not unusual given the amount of sodium ingested in a typical meal around the campfire, and so I slid my wedding band off and put it in my pocket. Later that evening at Betty Creek Gap where we were setting up our tents for the night I reached in my pocket to retrieve the ring. You guessed it…gone. There is probably little need to elaborate further. Suffice it to say my wedding ring appears to be lost forever. This was the original ring Amy placed on my finger over 23 years ago and outside of occasional events like this hiking trip, I have never had the need to take it off, even briefly.
Amy was understanding, even sympathetic towards me. She knows how sentimental I am. I can replace the ring with another ring that will look like it, but it will not be the same ring. It is just a symbol, I know, but it is an important symbol of a promise that I am to keep until death. For years I could look down at my left hand and have this modest reminder of who I belong to. Now all I have left on my hand is a worn indention around my ring finger where the ring once rested. My wedding band, now gone, has still marked me for Amy.
All of life we are marked by other people, other events, and other seasons. This season of Advent is a time of holy marking, but sometimes even that gets “lost in the wilderness.” Here are a few suggestions towards marking Advent in your days and weeks leading up to Christmas and consecrate them over to God with thanksgiving.
- Embrace the Crowds – Instead of dreading shopping and fighting crowds and traffic, say a prayer of thanks that you are surrounded by so many for such a common cause. Each one is a reason for Jesus. Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them…”
- Remember and Give Thanks Use your decorations as windows of memories and spend some time this month recalling a favorite recollection and say a prayer of thanks. Jacob did this with a rock that he called “Bethel.” (Gen 28)
- Enjoy your food. Ecclesiastes 3:13 “…moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” There will be plenty of time to diet, in the meantime be grateful and mindful.
- Look for the Good News and Tell it! Of course there is bad news, but bad news is not the only news or the last news so celebrate the good news. Luke 2:10 “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
- Laugh with Others and at Yourself There is a reason we greet one another with “Merry Christmas.” Laugh at the imperfections and remember that nobody has the perfect Christmas.
My wedding band is long gone and it will be replaced. In the meantime I have this marking that reminds me of the promises I made years ago where I said, I do. Well, I still do. Mark this season in such away that when the boxes are put back up in the attic, there is a lasting impression that will see you into the New Year.
Peace on earth and peace to you,