The Spur

When I first heard the news about the Tsunami my heart started beating a little faster and my mind immediately started listing the people we know in that area of the world. The list isn't long, but it took a few days before we knew they were all safe, though a couple of them were a little too close for comfort to the danger zone. We are thankful that our friends escaped, but the horror of the worst tragedy to hit our globe is still sinking in, as we watch television and hear the stories of both despair and hope.

I think the image that struck me most, of all those I've seen so far, was the home video footage of little children playing on the beach. As the wave looms large in the distance the children suddenly stand still and watch it approach. The news commentator's last remark is that he had no idea if the children, or the person taking the video, survived. That clip is a dramatic proof of one of the reasons why the death toll was so huge. They had no idea what was coming.

We woke up to a picturesque Alberta winter scene last Sunday - big flakes of snow had piled themselves up against our windows and doors and they were still coming down when we piled ourselves into the car to head to church. A lot of people decided they'd let the snow be an excuse to stay home and enjoy another day of Christmas. I can't say I blame them, but they missed something special.

Because there were only a few kids in each Sunday school class, we combined a bunch and I got to sit in on the adult class, which was also combined. There are normally two adult classes at our church - one taught by a young man who teaches through the scriptures like a university professor. The other is an older, fiddle-playing rancher who uses story telling to teach what he sees in God's word. I enjoy sitting under the instruction of both of these men, but it was a special treat for me to be there that day when the older man took over the class.

Chaos reigned supreme. That's how it seemed as we rehearsed our Christmas play. The first rehearsal didn't really happen. The second one was only a bit better, and three quarters of the cast didn't make it to the third. Those of us who were supposedly "in control" wondered if we were going to have a play at all.

That was nothing new. Every year it seems to happen. Kids run helter-skelter, some don't show up, some can't find costumes or those made for them don't fit. The choir director is tearing her hair out This year seemed a bit more chaotic than usual. But somehow it all came together in the end. The night of the performance seemed to go well. I say seemed, because I was too busy trying to keep my "cast" quiet and focused, to notice if the play was working. One of the magi discovered he could use one of the shepherd's headbands as a slingshot to wing the beads off his crown clear across the front of the church. That delighted the kids in the front row who dashed out to pick them up. Mary couldn't stop squirming because her costume was made of wool, and Joseph kept changing his mind about which robe fit best ? right up until he walked out onto the 'stage.?

It's that time of year again, the time when we begin asking one another, ?What do you want for Christmas?? My daughter asked her dad that question the other day and his answer was predictable. ?Well, I could use a pair of gloves, maybe some socks and a tie.?
Meagan groaned. ?I don't want to get you the same old things, Dad,? she complained. 'that's too boring.? Spence tried to come up with something a little more interesting, but so far, gloves and socks are still at the top of the list.

This is also the time when we begin hearing all the same old Christmas carols, receiving all the same old cards, seeing all the same old decorations, baking all the same old cookies and even pulling out the same old (plastic) Christmas tree. Same old, same old. It can all seem so familiar that . . .

When my husband and I moved to Saskatchewan, we thought we'd moved into a hair dryer. The wind that blew off the prairie that August was incessant, hot and dry. I remember standing on the back step of our tiny trailer, looking out at the flat stubble-covered land and thinking it was the ugliest, most desolate piece of country I'd ever seen. We lived there for three years and over that time I saw the land transformed as the seasons followed one after the other and my eyes grew accustomed to subtle changes. Then one day I stood on that same back step . . .

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