A River Runs Through It and Other Stories (1976)
I climbed to the top of the peak. When I looked, I knew I might never again see so much of the earth so beautiful, the beautiful being something you know added to something you see, in a whole that is different from the sum of its parts. What I saw might have been just another winter scene, although an impressive one. But what I knew was that the earth underneath was alive and that by tomorrow, certainly by the day after, it would all be green again. So what I saw because of what I knew was a kind of death with the marvellous promise of less than a three-day resurrection.
Might be a question that primarily reflects my own experience but, did Christmas catch you at a bad time? I know with all the lights and resurgence of that Michael Bubble album on the radios; and the many Christmas jumpers, it may seem as though happiness was thrust upon everyone indiscriminately. I don’t know if, like me, there was a grump who got pummelled into dust by the relentless call to think in a celebratory way; a grump who couldn’t escape the responsibility to respond from the recesses of what he/she knew instead of how they felt.
I won’t lie, for me, the time spent putting together the lego Millenium Falcon, and the 1000 piece star wars puzzle I received for Christmas helped the grump have some space to find perspective. I am not a Christian (lol init!). I know how important this whole birth of a King stuff is, and not just in terms of when I eventually get to heaven but more importantly for the life I lead now. Yet neither of those two facts sheltered me from the true and valid emotion presented by Donald Grump, who had casually found his way to the throne room in my heart and was wiggling his bottom on the comfy this-is-how-I-feel-right-now throne.
The presence however, of Donald Grump, didn’t negate or even diminish the truths to which my life was to be ordered. Maybe it was the reading through and around the scriptures for the two Advent and Christmas eve sermons; maybe it was the look on the people I loved in whom the hype had fully set; maybe it was the reality of the temporary reign of Donald Grump. Either way, alongside the lull, there slowly grew a warmth that eventually danced in the throne room in spite of, but not to spite good old Donald.
Here was the lesson I had forgotten, was reminded of by the experience, and have found expressed in the quote from Norman Maclean.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV Heb 11:1).
“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” (MSG Heb 11:1)
“faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses” (AMP Heb 11:1)
Because I believe that this child whose birthday the whole hype is about, I find myself placed among those for whom a future season of joy and happiness, and more importantly peace is guaranteed. I can rest on the truth that this guarantee is not just for what is to come, but that because of this same child what is to come is a possibility in the Now. Forgiveness means that Donald Grump is disregarded but rather embraced and renewed; loved with a patient passion; cherished into shining with happiness.
In other words, the sorrow that stood in the way of my joining the hype was as temporary as the seasons which Norman Maclean observed. It was subject to change. And the only permanent thing was the ‘ALIVE’ and ‘MAGNIFICENT’ promise of a resurrection from which there will be no death.
The warmth that danced in the throne room was always there dancing: He is the King who doesn’t need to sit on a throne to reign; whose dancing was permanent and infectiously changing all who sat on the throne into movers and shakers and spreaders of joy, and the peace that undergirds it.
The Norman Maclean book.