Thursday, December 24, 2009

Out of the Box

Christmas Eve.  Here it is.
The week has been full for mostly good, significant reasons.  There are a couple of things I wish I'd done differently.  For example, yesterday I took a van load of food to Trihaven house.  It was surplus stuff from our Christmas Box program earlier in the week.  Trihaven is the residential facility for adults with mental and/or substance abuse troubles.  They invited us to their Christmas party, so that was an opportunity to take the food too.  What I wished I'd done differently was to get the word out more effectively so that I wasn't the only one who got to go.  I mentioned it to a few people ahead of time, but that really wasn't enough.  So I was alone due to my own lack of inviting.

I have to admit I really wasn't looking forward to it.  "One more thing to do in an already overloaded week."  That's what I kept thinking.  Then too, packing up all the food took more time than I planned.  By the time I got to Trihaven I was Scrooging (I hereby dub "Scrooging" a genuine verb - ie I Scrooge, you Scrooged, we Scrooge . . . I've been Scrooged).  But of course God had other plans.  I walked in and some of the residents recognized me, but others hadn't seen me before.  "Hi!  Who are you?  Why are you here!?" one young woman shouted across the room from her recliner.
"I'm Curt..." 
"Oh hi Curt!  I just wondered who you were.  Merry Christmas!"
And so it went.  My Scrooginess didn't last long.  The residents opened gifts donated by various organizations or purchased by staff, and they showed an appreciation that was profound and heartwarming.  "Wow!  Another gift for me?  This is perfect!"
When the gifts were all opened, we unpacked the van of food and I had a chance to talk with the facilities manager, Jim, the Trihaven Director, Carol, and Denise who counsels residents with substance abuse and anger issues.  Carol is a recent immigrant from Cameroon in Africa. She's a strong, faith-filled woman who oozes tough love towards the residents.  She's a powerful person; just what Trihaven needs.  Jim, who oversees several Sequoia (the mother ship organization) facilities, is one of the most compassionate, good people I've met.  He knows all the residents by name and interacts with them as a friend and mentor.  I doubt that's in his job description.  He walked around with cookie crumbs on his jacket and took pictures of everyone while brandishing a huge grin.  "Get over in front of the tree.  Big smile!  Got it!"

We talked for about an hour about the need for mentors, about Christmas, and about alienation from God and Church.  I was so glad I went.  It made me thik about my Christmas Eve meditation (and you might here a bit of this stuff again if you come to the Christmas Eve service).  We have a tendency to put Christ into our own box, and forget that he won't be kept there.   One of my boxes was my own agenda for the day, but Jesus would not be confined to where I thought he should be.  He has a knack of showing up in any way he chooses.  So why do we try to keep him in the box at all?  I pray you have a wonderful Christmas and perhaps I'll see you tonight as we do our best not to box him in.
- Curtis

1 comment:

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