Friday, December 14, 2007

All I Want For Christmas is...

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So this past Wednesday, I'm driving "NN" to her DSS appointment as usual, so she can have her weekly supervised visit with her 4 brothers, her mom and her grandma. When we arrived, the oldest brother "D" had a big green garbage bag and a big ole grin on his face. Before we were three steps in to the small space set aside for broken families to visit, he had thrust a gift, drawn from the garbage bag, into his sisters hands with demands to "OPEN IT! OPEN IT!" Apparently D had saved up his allowances for weeks and then made a very specific christmas list, and his foster mom had helped him to go and get the gifts and to wrap them all up.

After all those weeks of anticipation, he was just SO HAPPY to be able to give her that gift, that when she protested (rather weakly, in my opinion!) that she should wait and open it on Christmas, he practically tore it from her grip and and began to open it for her. Well, that's all the encouragement she needed and between the two of them, the present was opened. On and on would D reach into his bag and draw out gifts for his brothers and sister, and when she arrived, his mom got one too.

During this 20 minute spree, I heard exclamations like "oh dang! I wanted one of these" and "hurry NN! Open it up!" right down to the second youngest, "M" doing a dance of joy on account of the FBI set he had just received, with a real badge, a gun and a stick to beat people with...

Initially I enjoyed it all, but didn't think anything of it, however, the more I was enveloped by the spiritual atmosphere of the room, the more it dawned on me that they were celebrating Christmas together, as a family, in the only way that was available to them these days. In a crowded room on the 6th floor of a building uptown with some lady watching and recording their 'interaction' for an hour. Doing the best they can.

That was really really sad to me. Due to the fact that there are 5 children that are in DSS care, they are split between 3 homes, which is just too much to coordinate with the foster parents to make being together on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning possible - especially considering foster parents have their own children and family traditions at Christmastime.

So these kids won't see one another this year for Christmas. I don't doubt that wherever they are, they'll feel accepted and cared for and well-fed, but c'mon now, we all know it's just not the same.

It's messed up - I wouldn't wish upon them to be back in the home situation they were in for last Christmas - or maybe even 5 Christmases ago...but my heart tells me that what'll happen this year - while for their own good - just ain't right either.

By grace, I have relief in my heart over this that the God who created these children, and their mom is a God of restoration...and I know that He sure needs to be too, seeing as there is so much 'messed-upedness' in the world. Like I said yesterday, "we are committed to...whatever it takes to reveal the heart of the Father..." but before I can do any of that, the Father has to reveal Himself to me. Expereincing life with people has brought me more than I baragined for in terms of knowing God, knowing myself and experiencing mankind as it truly is, apart from my sheltered life. God has become more real to me and bigger and more capable than I ever really understood before. And I need that from Him so that I can be okay...

So back to the kids - I wondered what Christmas would be like for them next year - where they'll be living, who will be caring for them. Should I hope that they remain in foster care? Should I pray that they'll be reunited with their mom so that they can move back into our neighborhood (or one like it) and we'll all pretend these last 6 months didn't happen? Or maybe they'll be farmed off to some aunt/grandma/cousin so that they stay 'in the family'.

This is where the Spirit helps me in my weakness. when I do not know what to pray either because I am totally unaware of situations in the lives of those in my parish, or because I feel so out of my league that I don't know what to say that won't sound contrite or from a hallmark special, Holy Spirit searches my heart, and intercedes on my behalf.

My responsibility in this? (and really, the key to this whole incarnational ministry thing) Is just to show-up with my head and with my heart, to keep my mind and my eyes open to see what is going on around me, to really see with the eyes of my heart, and to wonder what it must be like to be that person. God uses me through that intentional heart and head participation - He uses it to change the lives of those around me through prayer and practical helps, but even more remarkably, He uses it to shape me too. More Lord.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I love this post... it makes me cry, makes me angry, and makes me hopeful all at the same time. I love you guys!