My wish for you . . .As you receive the gift of this new year, one day at a time, one breath at a time, my wish for you is for beauty. Beauty of the soul, where you relax into the shape of who you are, created in the image of God and held by nail-scarred hands.
Beauty of the eye, seeing the splendor of what is above,
What is around you, the exquisite very near,
Even your scars.
All that you have lived
and danced through
wraps up into you,
going forward today,
only this day,
for we have no other.
I wish for you beauty of the skin, soft breezes or brisk winds
gentle rains or strong waves
Beauty for your ears, listening to the music of rustling leaves, crunching snow, crackling fire, to the hearts of those God brings to you
And to your heart
And song. Always song.
Praise gives us life.
Where do you find the beauty in your life?
The photos and the video below, “Beautiful”, are best viewed on the website. (Click the title.)
We drove southeast from Zürich toward the birthplace of Maria Tschanen Zimmerman, my great-grandmother. I’d hoped to find family tombstones, especially for her sister, Anna. My grandmother’s only expressed wish, unfulfilled, had been to visit Switzerland. After my mother’s death this year, I felt the need to link back to her grandmother’s land, especially since it is my middle daughter’s home, and the birthplace of two of my grandchildren.
By the time we reached Wohlen bei Bern, early winter darkness forced us to pull out flashlights. We stomped around the graveyard at Die Pfarrkirche, but all we found were fairly recent graves.
Inside the church, the boys and I were fascinated with the manger scene, loaded with woolly sheep.
We read that the church was founded in 1320.
So why no old gravestones, the kind my older brother and his wife found throughout the U.S. to establish our family tree on our father’s side?
In a country rich with history, even pre-dating the Romans, it didn’t make sense.
After thoroughly covering every part of the cemetery, I stopped to listen to my daughter explain that, according to Swiss law, any graves over 100 years old are removed to make space for new ones. (No, we don’t know what happens to them.)
Finally, we chose a young cinnamon rose-bush near some Zimmerman and Tschanen graves to disperse a portion of Mom’s ashes. (Mom had been an avid gardener.)
Tracey and the boys sang “I Am His Child,” which Jeremy and Kyle had sung to Mom on their last visit in April – and to which she had responded with deep emotion and tears. (They also sang it at the reception after her Requiem.)
For days I was frustrated that I had not been able to find my ancestors’ tombs.
Yesterday, understanding dawned, and I sighed in relief.
Just like the empty manger, the empty cross, and the empty tomb where they had laid the body of Jesus, someday all our tombs will be empty.
The only thing that really matters is where we go from there.
“My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence.” I John 5:13-14
Below is a partial clip of Jeremy and Kyle singing “I Am His Child” at the reception.
On the plane to Europe, I watched, enchanted, as the sun rose over waves of white clouds. From the top, the massive cloud coverage looked like brilliant cotton pillows or rows of whipped cream. What a change when the plane dove toward the Zürich airport. We penetrated the clouds and the cabin instantly darkened. For the next weeks, the only time I saw the sun was when we drove to a mountaintop to hike, or spent a weekend in an Alpine ski village.
Almost everyone I talked with complained or apologized for the glum weather, and I’m sure many are plagued with SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder, caused by lack of sunlight)
The constant grey sky and frequent fog cover, people walking huddled against the damp cold, and the predominance of black clad citizens admittedly can be depressing.
I’m flying home next week, back to sunny, warm Florida, flip-flops and sandals and sunglasses. Though the damp cold does get to the bones, the ever-present fog hasn’t really bothered me.
I know this is only temporary.
And I know where I’m heading.
How very sad it would be to live in the fog forever.
To live without the hope of warmth and light.
I feel for my daughter and her friends and their desire for sunshine.
I feel even more for those who always live in the fog, whose lives are circumscribed by their own wants and drives, who search for meaning and find only emptiness, who reach out for life and come up with empty hands.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Just as Tracey and I chose to go up the mountain to walk Caitlin in the sunshine, any human being can choose the light.
Even when it feels like we are surrounded by darkness.
I could say discover your inner child, or seek your own peace and tranquility. I could encourage you to get more exercise and eat a healthy diet. Make friends. Volunteer. Find a hobby. Those are good and helpful, but don’t bring us into the sunshine.
I only know one way. Sometimes it starts with a mountaintop experience. Sometimes it is a cry in the night. Sometimes it is a gentle climb into the light.
But the path is the same. The way out of darkness.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
And we discover that we don’t even do the climbing. We are carried into the light.
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have is all-life healing and whole.