The internet went out on November 24th. At first I thought, No big deal. I can get around it. But one day and one hour with tech support turned into a week and countless hours of pinging and plugging and unplugging. And each piece of equipment has it’s own support team. After ten minutes of trying to spell my name, I finally told the long-suffering tech for my router that I was hanging up. I realized there are no robins in India. It’s been a
week of poor connections.
My whining hasn’t gotten me anywhere. In fact, we are a culture of whiners, so people are absolutely unmoved by your plight. I told countless techs that I was in school full-time online now and I had to have internet. Silence, or worse, “Yes ma’am, sorry for the inconvenience.” The pathos of my life was not even acknowledged. So I’ve gone to Starbucks all week to study statistics. First world problems, I know.
Just to complete my whining, I also started a new job in critical care, which is requiring weekly classes where I learn more numbers, formulas and random snippets of rarely used information. My brain is hurting. In the midst of it all, I realize it is Christmas again. I begin to play Christmas music, thinking in three weeks it will all be over. This morning I ran down to Spencer’s grave to decorate. It’s a quirky mom-thing. I had a half-hour of time before the Verizon tech would arrive.
The cemetery was a mish-mash of fall colliding into winter. Pumpkins and holiday wreaths and brown leaves tumbled around the grave markers. I am not the only one who feels this is all moving too fast. I looked up the hill towards where a friend of mine recently buried his son. The Christmas decorations were there, new and perfect, and my heart rolled over, remembering the additional pain of the first Christmas, the extra weight making you gasp for breath.
On the other hand, my decorations were somewhat worn; the silk flowers a bit weather faded, the gold chain with the brightly colored bulbs that I string along the butterfly bush missing paint and the gold star that looks more bronze now, goes on the dogwood tree. Twelve Christmases. I tie the plaid bow around the metal vase next to the stone and stand back to look. Spencer Timothy Macleod. I don’t like it. I keep reading. Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord. I’m sure they don’t need Christmas decorations up there.
My friend Larry is there with Spence now, along with several others I can count on seeing again. Larry left for work a couple of weeks ago and died in a head-on collision. His departure was instant; his sweet soul released from the wreckage and ushered into a glorious homecoming. But here, where time is like a locomotive that can’t break, the lives of many others have become derailed. A wife, a mother and father and brother and sister and two beautiful little boys who look up, like I do, to a place they can’t see yet. Daddy is there, right behind that star. And life, for many who loved Larry, will never be the same.
I like to think these things change us, that we can bring home the love that we feel at funerals, the love that bridges all misgivings and mistrust, and learn to live on a higher plane. Forgive quickly, love openly and take time for what matters most. But we don’t for the most part. We jump back into the passing lane; jobs, hockey games, Christmas parties. And for me, a brain crammed with data sets and waveforms. Yet there is a voice inside that keeps saying, “Slow down, Robin. Will you just slow down a little?”
I decided to bake some Christmas cookies as the Verizon man tromped in and out apologetically, letting Rosie stick her nose in his hand like he keeps a biscuit there at all times. He announced the internet was fixed and I had planned on giving him a cranberry cookie but he actually was the one who smelled them burning. Peace on earth, good will towards men, even if you burn the cookies.
It’s strange to me that God waited and waited to send Jesus to us. Then, just when everybody had sort of forgotten about it, turned back to the cold grind of life, the Dog-Eat-Dog World, as my dad used to say, God said, Now! And you could miss it easily. I might be reading about Correlation Coefficients. You could even be doing something grand like belting out Gloria In Excelcis Deo in a choir, and Jesus would come like a whisper in the night. You missed the eastern star, the angels breaking through the sky above the tired shepherds. You were at Starbucks, cursing your internet provider under your breath. Or maybe that’s me actually.
The internet went down again an hour after Verizon man left. I pulled a tangle of Christmas lights out of the attic then cut some branches from the holly trees and pines in the backyard. When my husband came home his face lit up like a child’s at my crazy display. The sunroom was ablaze and even the pets seemed full of joy. I think Jesus would love Christmas lights. And cookies, even burnt ones. He’d probably eat one to be nice, and repeat himself. “You need to slow down Robin.”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2,6 NLT
Mortals make elaborate plans but God has the last word. Proverbs 16:1 the Message