Monthly Archives: December 2010

What I’ve Learned About Motherhood in the Past 7 Days.

  • Gingerbread + Christmas cookies + pumpkin pie + staying up till 10 for three days straight playing with cousins = a very grumpy two-year-old for Christmas. (Kids are supposed to be grumpy on Christmas, right?)
  • As much as I may have talked to August about Christmas being about Jesus and Santa only giving gifts because he loves Jesus, I still was a failure when I reminded my son: “Christmas is about how Jesus was born,” and he said: “No! That’s not true. Christmas is about Santa!” Oh brother.
  • In these two and a half years of air travel with my child, I never knew what a beautiful thing it is to drag the car seat onto the airplane. We plugged that kid in for our late night flight Monday night and he was asleep before the plane took off. Miracle. How did I never do this before?
  • This isn’t about motherhood, but after two flights of horrific sinus pain on Monday, I got these amazing earplugs from the airport store. And it was life-changing. Just wanted you to know.
  • If your kid sleeps with a rocket like mine, it’s really good to find one that has a clock and an astronaut-on-the-moon nightlight (that shines on the wall).
  • Even if you’re six months pregnant, it’s totally worth it to run through the airport terminal next to your kid, with a metal plane in your hand, making the “shooooooooosh” sound, for thirty minutes. (The fact that I’m sore from it today shows what an out of shape pregnant lady I am.)
  • As much as I know that I’m loved, the sweetest thing about leaving after visiting my parents and grandparents in Amarillo is their goodbye tears. I know so few daughters and granddaughters have what I have.  I hope my children always feel as loved by Chris and I as I feel loved by my parents.

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Savior of the Nations, Come

For my last post of the Advent season, I’ll leave you with this lovely Advent hymn. I hope that your Christmas is full of wonder and beauty and hope. I’ll check back in with you next week. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Savior of the Nations, Come

Savior of the nations come,
Show yourself, the virgin’s son.
Marvel heaven, wonder earth,
That our God chose such a birth.

Not by human power or seed
Did the woman’s womb conceive;
Only by the Spirit’s breath
Was the Word of God made flesh.

Mary then was found with child,
Still a virgin, chaste and mild.
God had favored her with grace
To receive the Prince of Peace.

Christ laid down his majesty,
Passed through dark Gethsemane.
Though he left his Father’s home,
Christ now sits on God’s own throne.

Christ in glory intercede
For your creatures’ suffering need.
Let your resurrecting power
Soon complete the victory hour.

Praise to you, O Lord, we sing.
Praise to Christ, our newborn King!
With the Father, Spirit, one,
Let your lasting kingdom come.

Text: Ambrose, 4th cent., Martin Luther 1523
Translation: Calvin Seerveld, 1984

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A Very Merry Thankful Tuesday

It’s almost Christmas, people! Here’s why I’m thankful:

  • After a month of co-battling a cold with August (both mine and his), it finally became bronchitis, which means we both finally got antibiotics. It’s been a month of snotty noses and shivers, yucky coughs and night-time wakings, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to give my child medicine and let him sleep through he night without a cough. Wow, I should be so much more thankful for antibiotics than I am.  Thank you person who invented Penicillin in 1928.
  • I’ve been away from my Main Squeeze for almost ten days, enjoying an extra long grandparent and cousin visit with August in Texas. But I get to see my husband tomorrow when he arrives here for Christmas. I woke up the other morning and thought how much I’d just like to hug him and I remembered how blessed I am to have someone who loves me and wants to hug me back. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
  • I had a realization about August the other day: That he is somehow able to contain each of mine and Chris’ strongest personality traits (which have often seemed to me to be on separate poles). My husband knows what he believes about everything. (Some might call him opinionated…) I am tender hearted, a sensitive soul. Somehow my son is both of those things. He has no problem yelling: “I don’t like this!” to every song on the cd, except the one song he likes. He also can’t stand anything unhappy and is constantly aware of my feelings (“Are you sad, Mama?”). This past Friday night, my parents took us to see their church’s performance of “It’s a Wonderful Life” the musical. August loved it until we got to the sad part, where the angel shows George Bailey how horrible life would be in Bedford Falls had he not been born. There’s a lot of crying and music in minor keys. My son kept yelling (as he burrowed his face in my chest): “I don’t like this show, Mama! I don’t like it!” (Which I’m sure the actors on the stage didn’t love hearing.) Even when the show got happy at the end, he was not convinced or pleased. A sensitive and opinionated boy. I love it.
  • This past Saturday, my brother Brooks coordinated a massive undertaking of providing 250 families in Amarillo, Texas with presents (not only kids but mothers too). Just seven years ago, these families had no help. I could not be more proud to be related to this man who works every week to make sure these families and kids are cared for, offered food, medical help, and authentic relationships. I’m blessed to be able to introduce August to the kind of work Brooks is doing, and blessed that he gets to grow up with an uncle who has given his life to pursing mercy and hope for kids starving for both.
  • I’ve gotten to have a week with no deadlines and lots of time to rest. That equals an obsessive amount of time spent reading two YA novels in the course of a week. (The Hunger Games anyone?)
  • It’s Christmastime! I get to celebrate by giving my kid an awesome rocket digital clock!

What are you thankful for?

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On Mary: Faith and Doubt

Whenever I spend time reading the biblical story of Mary, the mother of Christ, I imagine her to be like me, a sincere believer who can still find a way to doubt, to say yes, then run. This Advent season, I haven’t been able to get past Mary’s doubt. It’s not that I can ever know she was a doubter, it’s just that I sort of hope she was. The more I know Jesus the more I grasp my need for what John chapter one calls “grace and truth,” a spiritual rescuing of those of us (all of us) who fail to live up to genuine goodness.

I can’t imagine— knowing who Jesus spent his time with, who he chose as his disciples, who he ate with, associated with, designed his messages for—that in the choosing of his mother, he would have gone with the most beautiful, most gifted, most outwardly holy woman on earth. I imagine that Mary, a young girl, could hardly have known who she was, let alone who God was. I imagine her earnest faith in the midst of utter fear. The angel asked her to do no small thing. And her immediate answer in the angel’s presence revealed the reality of her heart: a love for God, a longing to obey, an obedience to her role in the coming of the Messiah. But, I can’t help but imagine all those minutes and hours and days and months following the angel’s visit, when she wished she could have taken a few days to think through the consequences of such a sudden obedience.

How could she have known what it would mean to be to the Virgin Isaiah wrote about, who would bear the One who came to save her people? Could she have envisioned the rejection of her friends, her family, and the utter embarrassment she would have caused Joseph, her betrothed, whom I imagine she respected (I’m sure he was much older) if not admired? And what about those images she must have had of her own death? Surely she considered that she’d be accused of adultery, the consequences of which were (still are, in some places) death by stoning. What is faith except the choice to act on a belief you can hardly grasp, despite that possibility that if you’re wrong, your life (and possibly the lives of those you love?) is ruined.

We love Mary because she is like us, unremarkable, yet asked to fulfill a task she could not help but complete, knowing if she was right, she’d live; if she was wrong, she’d die. We love Mary because she reminds us that faith is always courage.

Her story is extravagant. If it’s real it should be celebrated. We don’t celebrate Christmas because it’s necessary to get excited about something in the dark winter months, because we need to celebrate warmth in the midst of lifelessness and cold. If we want Christmas to be that for us than we should just celebrate Winter Solstice. We should bake warm cookies and give presents on the shortest day of the year. It would make a lot more sense.

Instead we’re invited to celebrate a story that has the power to change everything about our world. If we really believe in Christmas, we believe that God created a world and then came into it, to rescue it from itself. We believe that all our destructive patterns, from our individual inability to show mercy on the broken around us, to our collective craving for violence and war, can actually be undone by the reality of a God-given “grace and truth.” We believe that Jesus changes us, that he changes the world.

I feel like my life has often been like my imaginary Mary’s: moments of spiritual insight and power, my Yes, followed by my running, my fear, the torture of my brain’s accusations against the possibility of such power. Believing in Jesus is never logical. Since when do virgins become pregnant with God’s child? Since when does a man heal a blind man with a touch of mud on the eyes? Since when does God as man take our punishment through his own death, and then overcome it?

Logic has never been the point. We don’t come to God because of proof, because of mathematical equations lining up and pointing to heaven. We come to God because our souls ache for magic, for a love that greater than our half-hearted attempts at connection, for an undercurrent that can pull us through this world in joy.

I don’t believe in Christmas because it makes sense to me. I believe in it because it doesn’t, because only in its fantastic claim is there something worth celebrating extravagantly over. If God came to earth through Mary’s body, then my body has value as well. If God came to earth to rescue us, then my son’s longing for the magic of Santa is not simply child-like, it’s a picture of our divine longing for love, for laughter, for excessive giving and decadent feasting.

If God came to earth, then everything we think we know is up for debate. That’s sometimes called doubt. But I think we should call it faith.

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Christ’s Mother Reflects, His Childhood

Each day this week, I’ll be sharing from a series of five Advent poems I wrote for John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle. I hope they will bless you as you prepare for the coming of Christmas.

 

Christ’s Mother Reflects, His Childhood

“and for him to see me mended / I must see him torn.”  -Luci Shaw “Mary’s Song”

 

He stood at the door, wet-faced and panting.
in his hands three baby birds. They’re hungry,
he sniffed, nested them in a bowl with grass,
fed them worms until they died. After, I held him
for an hour, his soul too much for this world.

Who doesn’t want normal for her son?
Yet he chose the lonely of the children, played ball
with the friendless. He was quiet, sat with me
long hours, watching: the grass, the anthills, the sunset.
Sometimes his sigh at such beauty went down too far.

Do you know where I lived before I found you?
He asked once as we sat on cold stones
watching fireflies, Joseph inside with the little ones.
I breathed long and answered. No, my love, I don’t.
I scanned his face with my eyes: a spark, a smile I didn’t know,
as if his chest’s glow might burst, blind me in its radiance.

We never spoke in metaphors: Not light of the world,
not cornerstone, not sacrificial lamb.
When I found him at his studies, face down toward
Isaiah’s words, he looked at me and laughed.
For my sake? I wondered. His own shock?
A memory of the words he would fulfill?

Later: the teaching, the miracles, the homelessness
he chose. How to follow the child you raised?
How to warm yourself in his light
without catching flame and melting?

Drink his blood, eat his flesh, beg his body
to release from the wood it lay torn upon.
Recognize the great pain he’d always carried,
how his split soul all along was mending mine.

© Micha Boyett Hohorst, 2010. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or post without attribution.

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Darkness

Each day this week, I’ll be sharing from a series of five Advent poems I wrote for John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle. I hope they will bless you as you prepare for the coming of Christmas.

 

Darkness

“For Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
-Handel’s Messiah (from Isaiah, chapter 60)

“Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb, / Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.”
-John Donne “La Corona”

 

We are all some mother’s child,
all born through great pain,

then a flood of release, an unbearable empty.
I sang a broken song, a wail of psalm

until you came. We were cold, alone,
this man who will raise you, and I.

No mother, no midwife, one blanket,
a borrowed pot of water on the fire.

Did I not expect you would cry with me,
you who had willed that all infants cry?

Did I not expect you would need me,
your body suddenly cold, craving my skin?

You bobbed your head along my chest
in search of milk: ordinary, human.

Where were the trumpets, where the showering
of gold? We three were hushed in the dark,

my blood trickling to the ground, my husband’s silent tears,
your infant body learning to swallow.

And in this, somehow, Glory.
My God, you deserve more than the two of us,

torn open and shivering with you in the dark.

© Micha Boyett Hohorst, 2010. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or post without attribution.

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The Lord is With Thee

Each day this week, I’ll be sharing from a series of five Advent poems I wrote for John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle. I hope they will bless you as you prepare for the coming of Christmas.

 

The Lord is With Thee
-from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1

 

They hail me Mary, full of grace.
They bless me: brave, obedient—holy.
What would you have said to the twelve-foot,
light-soaked man, a gold flecked tower
whose honey lips spoke your name? I said Yes.
Then ran, traveled days, silent, hungry,
purging in the grass, to my cousin’s.
I knew nowhere else to go.

I found Elizabeth, impossibly, full
with child. She, fifty and bare, as pregnant
as I, thirteen, unknown. We, an absurd pair.
Did I hope she would recognize my angel tale,
believe for me what I hardly could?
The Lord is with thee, she said.
Her baby soared inside.

Her face was vague to my memory.
What I recalled was her voice: in candlelight,
she once tucked me under wool with my sisters,
sang us to sleep with poems of Yahweh.
How easily she spoke of God,
as if he were a neighbor, a fish vendor on the street.

Blessed art thou among women. Blessed is the fruit
of thy womb. For three months she hid me
from rumors, from my angry betrothed.
I took walks. I threw up. I ate.
Robes can only hide so much.

Then I stood beside the midwife, water basin
in hand while my cousin squatted and screamed.
I knew what my Yes meant this body must do
and wept for myself, for this child of God
given to my clumsy care.

Who am I? I once said to Elizabeth
after dinner, beside our fire. I am small
and weak in faith. She placed her palm
on my cheek, whispered, You’re God’s.

© Micha Boyett Hohorst, 2010. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint or post without attribution.

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