Richard at connexions links to some very pertinent quotes from Oscar Romero on the Bruderhof Communities site. I would recommend visiting the site and reading all of the Advent readings. Here is one I liked at lot:
The Council says humanity’s mystery can be explained
only in the mystery of the God who became human.
If people want to look into their own mystery
the meaning of their pain,
of their work,
of their suffering,
of their hope
let them put themselves next to Christ.
If they accomplish what Christ accomplished
doing the Father’s will,
filling themselves with the life
that Christ gives the world
they are fulfilling themselves as true human beings.
If I find, on comparing myself with Christ,
that my life is a contrast, the opposite of his,
then my life is a disaster.
I cannot explain that mystery
except by returning to Christ,
who gives authentic features
to a person who wants to be genuinely human.
Today was a day spent tying up loose ends before a week off. I always take the week off before Christmas to get ready for the festivities. It is nice to be able to indulge oneself this way – being the boss has to have some perks. And with a lot of kids in my house, I need the time. Also the kids are now out of school and there are not many holidays that I get to take at the same time as the kids.
Today started out at one of our local community schools with half of the dental team. The kids I was scheduled to see were not there – go figure! So after some calls we got the documents I needed to make a year end report, went down to the teachers staff room to help them get rid of some of their Christmas goodies, discussed some of this half of the dental teams concerns, (and saw some of the reasons for them in action), then headed home to strart writing my report.
We have some serious communication problems going on between the two halfs of the dental team that I have to help sort out. That is actually the main reason for the report. A few years ago I did the main administrative work for the program. Now it is administered by someone more detached. I guess my heart is in the program and I want to see it succeed, especially for the sake of the kids that are treated at the schools. So I am trying to take back some of the ownership of it and get the teams working together more harmoniously. Unfortunately, that means I have to do some confrontation – and I hate doing that. It just isn’t me! So I am trying to get the results I need to see without laying blame – by pointing out the areas that must be changed and improved.
One of the problems is working within a very limited budget. It hasn’t increased since the program started back in 1993/4. Salaries have increased. Supplies have gone up in price. So most of the cutbacks have come in the budget for my time and for parent/community involvement. Since the budget isn’t going to allow for much increase in my time, I am going to have to do some juggling to squeeze more time out of somewhere without it costing the program anything.
Anyway, I then had to run over to my office for a couple of last minute jobs. Got to talk to one of my friends who is very involved in the Francophone school. She is interested in how we are doing at getting our boys siblings over from the Congo – and of course since we are francophone we have the “droit” to enroll them in this school. She was telling about the Christmas program at the school. This year one of the teachers from Africa ( a Muslim) was Santa Claus and his young daughter was Mary in the nativity scene with a blonde,blue eyed, baby girl doll as Jesus!! What you can get by with in a small school where the majority are Catholic but the school is run by a board independant from the Catholic School Board. And best of all, it is so small it is like a small country school – everyone knows everyone else like an enlarged family. The drawback for our kids was the smallness and lack of sports and variety in the program.
Today I have eaten too many good things. Chocolates, nibblings of cheese, sausage and crackers, veggies and fruit, and still some leftovers from our staff party on Saturday. We only have two more days to work before we take a bit of a holiday for Christmas and we have lots of gifts that have shown up at the office tempting us to eat it all before the end of the week.
Work has been slow over the past week and will likely stay that way till January. Our schedules are filled but at this time of the year people tend to forget that they had dental appointments, so there are a lot of missed appointments. And people would rather spend their money on things that are more fun – at least in the short term.
So I am looking forward to the break and am needing it too. Just wish our bills would stop coming in for the holiday. Oh the joys of being a buisness owner and employer!
The nice side is that our employees are so nice. I am wearing a new pair of ear rings and have a new plant – a beautiful tiny evergreen as well as a canister of coffee and a new mug. These gifts always catch me a little off guard and sort of humbled by the generosity they show. I really do think that we have one of the best staffs of all the dental offices in Saskatchewan!
We were talking about the capture of Saddam around the table in our staff room today. One person was remarking about the secrecy around finding him and then just all of a sudden the capture was made and done – and the fact that it was a disgruntled family member apparently that gave away his whereabouts. The comment was also made that they hoped he would get what he deserved and that it would be sloww and painful.
Then another staff member asked me how I reacted. I told her that Saddam looked so pathetic that it made me feel rather sad. I am not sad that he has finally been captured. But it is sad to see such a pathetic character displayed on TV. He hurt many people but he comes out as the biggest loser in the end. He is loved by no one. His family is now turning him in to face justice. What does he have that is of any value?
Where is the profit in having had it all – money and power – if at the end you have no soul? That is what he looked like to me. What more could any court take away?
The Christmas tree is up and things are beginning to look decorated around our house. Our creche from the Congo is on the mantle, the candle carousel from the Phillipines is on the shelf, the candles are out, my Santa collection is on the side board and packages are beginning to appear under the tree already.
Today I even put up the tree at the office. It was a pretty small tree but it will help to make things look cheerful. I guess it will be decorated tonight or in the morning. We are only open this week so it does not have to last long.
I also bought a nice big wreath for my front door. I like having a real tree. And decorating with lots of greenery. At this time of the year with alot of white cold looking stuff outside, it reminds me of the promise of life to come. And it smells like being in a forest – I like that smell. We had enough of artificial trees in the Congo – so I am a bit of a real tree fanatic.
And you know what? I don’t have to keep this one alive! I suggested to my son that he could get me a new plant for Christmas since my old croteus has died. He asked me why he should get me a new plant since I had just finished killing my last one! My tree will most certainly die and then it can become fuel for the fires at winter festival time. No guilt there!
The second week of advent is complete. This week when we have considered the candle of Peace there has not been alot of peace. It has been hard to think in terms of peace for people who have been displaced by war. It is hard not to spend time worrying about friends that are too far away, that may be traveling into dangerous situations, whose hopes have been dashed too many times, who now face personal sorrow as well.
We have just had our staff party and it was fun. We had a good time together. And Roger got to treat us all to a little Leonard Cohen.
It is at times like this that I find it difficult to set aside my worries and enjoy the moment I am in. We live lives that are sometimes so comfortable that we forget the sufferings of others, both around us and far away. We would like to live in our fantasy worlds of tinsel and glitter and shiny lights.
And then all of a sudden I realize that I have been so preoccupied today that I forgot a couple of important events – the Santa Lucia open house and the youth parent meeting! Can’t go back and do them now.
I need to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace. I need the peace only he can bring to my life with its worries. Peace amid the chaos of an unpeaceful world.
Reading the book Seven Guides to Effective Prayer by Colin Whittaker lent to me by Randall. I am awed by the power of God shown in the lives of the seven whose stories are told. I feel like I am such a baby when I read what God did for and through them. I think that maybe we are too happy being fed soft food and are not not prepared to have God take us on to the stuff that is harder to chew. We must be missing out on so much that we don’t even know enough to miss.
The one thing that I find most difficult in reading the book is the fact that the stories are all from long ago. There are no stories of people who are working at regular jobs, coping with the daily grind of living and raising a family, reaching the depth of communion with God that I would love to attain. If only I could have the confidence displayed in these stories of God answering prayer. Maybe if I had more time, more faith, more dedication – you know all the questions as well as I do. And maybe you know the lack of clear answers too.
And then I am called back to reality by a child asking me to take them to the mall, and I look at the seven piles of laundry waiting and also realise that this is the world God put me in. I don’t have any revelation, much as I might like it, that I should leave my career, my family responsibilities, and concentrate only on the things of God.
So, I am caught in this inbetween place – my head and heart wanting to be closer to God – my feet planted in the real world with the laundry around them.
It is so reassuring at this time of the year for me to reflect on the humanness of Jesus. He knows what I feel like. He came here and knows just what it is like to be human and limited like us.