Cozy Cat Shorts

I wrote a short story that is included in this anthology of short stories from Cozy Cat Press. I hope you like my story, Mr. Wednesday!

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Merry Christmas!

You have dashed through the snow. You can hear what I hear. You have rocked around the Christmas Tree. Merry Christmas to you, one and all!

Merry Christmas! I pray that you have celebrated this day. I hope you have given from your heart. Shared peace and goodwill. May you be overcome with wonder and joy!

Sometimes it appears we live in darkness and fear, but then wonder arrives unexpectedly in a package, in a smile, in a manger in Bethlehem. Wonder makes it way into the world and our hearts. Light comes!

Merry Christmas to you, one and all! May you receive the wonder of the world!

Community

Miami, Oklahoma is an interesting place. Tucked into the Northeastern corner of Oklahoma, situated on the Mother Road, Miami does have something to offer. There is big sky and wide open spaces. There are cute little activities during the year, including the fun of the Coleman Theater. Along with this, it can offer community. I think the best argument for Miami is community.

People will show up for events. This is wonderful. If your child is on a soccer team or in a play, people will show up. If there is a festival or craft fair or church, people will show up. This showing up is especially important because Miami is mired in poverty.

Almost 90 percent of the students in the public school qualify for free lunch. Like other rural communities, we struggle with issues of terrible drug addiction and that trade. Rural areas can be forgotten by government, and sometimes it really feels that way. At the same time, community will save us.

You see, when you are a community you show up. You show up for your teachers by providing them with school supplies. You show up for children by remembering them at Christmas. You show up for the hungry by feeding them with a Farmers’ Market. These are just the signs of community at All Saints’ Episcopal Church here in Miami.

Other churches and organizations in Miami are showing up as well. They are providing guidance for children with Boys and Girls Club. They are offering nourishment with a meal every Wednesday night at the Methodist Church. They honor the elderly with Efforts of Hope. They coordinate assistance through POCI. We do this because we are a community.

Community is about knowing one another, supporting one another, and loving one another. Community is also frustrating because we know one another. Yet, we live in times that would demand that we isolate ourselves. That isolation can and will be deadly.

We need community and the community needs us. We need the community to show up and we need to show up for the community. That is what it means to be in fellowship. That is the greatest argument for a place like Miami.

Crying on the way to Bethlehem

Holidays can be strange. They can be times of immense joy and terrible sorrow from loss. I reflected yesterday that my father has been dead now 20 years. He actually died on Thanksgiving in 1997.

Some years the holidays can be sad. Some years are reflective. Some years there are new joys that I still somehow wish I could share with him, particularly now that I have a child.

Christmas comes quickly. Christmas comes with a promise of hope and renewal and light in a dark and scary world. I imagine that first Christmas that perhaps those who witnessed Jesus’ birth came with all sorts of emotions.

Shepherds tending their field feeling cold and sleepy, hungry and frightened. Maybe one is dealing with his own losses, which would be common during that time. Angels appear and invite them to go to Bethlehem and see the newborn king.

Some probably rejoiced at the news. Some might have felt it was just one more thing heaped upon their plate. Still, the shepherds go and see, taking themselves, their hurts, joys, sorrows, fears, hopes with them.

Somehow, though, no matter where they were in their lives and spiritual journeys, witnessing Jesus gave them healing and hope. Healing and hope in that they were no longer alone or misunderstood in this world because God becomes just like them and understands. God becomes just like them and walks along with them, holding their hand, connecting them and connecting us to God and each other.

Wherever you are this Christmas time, know that God is with you. God is with us, Emmanuel. Bring those tears and sorrows to Bethlehem and come see the newborn king.

How long will you be angry?

Years ago, I remember wandering around a store with my ex-husband. The two of us were looking for something, but as we walked, I chattered. I was fuming and angry with a friend. As I continued to recount the litany of sins this person committed against me, my ex-husband did not offer consoling, nor comfort. He rolled his eyes and said, “I thought she was your friend. You aren’t being very nice and you talk about this too much.”

That stacked my anger. Now, I was not only angry at this friend, I was angry with my ex-husband. It made for an uncomfortable car ride home.

I remember thinking to myself: “Have I really talked about this too much?” At the time, I concluded that he didn’t know what he was talking about or he just wanted me to stop talking about this conflict. Why wasn’t he on my side? Certainly he was not being profound at the moment, still there was a lesson there.

I was angry and instead of trying to do something constructive with that anger: talking to that friend. I was giving way to bitterness and ruminating on the injustice I felt that befell me. I left the anger for too long and it became bitter and dangerous, poisonous not only to the relationship with my friend, to myself and even to someone outside the relationship with that friend, my ex-husband.

When we are hurt, we feel sad and we feel angry. Anger appears to motivate us to deal with our hurt. We get to decide how to do that. Do we confront the pain or cause of pain? Is that even possible? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Do we accept it? After acceptance, can we let it go? Of course, we get into trouble when we don’t decide what to do.

Sometimes we hold onto anger too long. We hold on to it and add to it every other injustice, feeding it. Anger becomes something unhealthy. We become bitter, negative and we push others away who might help us.

We have to decide what to do with our anger. If we get the opportunity to talk something through, do we take it? If we decide not to talk it through, can we put our anger down and decide to move on? How long do we hold on to our anger?

I wonder if anger really belongs to us. We only get to borrow it and then we need to give it back. We are offered a little sample to do what we need to do at the time of hurt so we can move to the next step. So, if anger doesn’t belong to us, when will we let it go? Do we even recognize that we are still angry?

How long will we be angry? Until we do something about our hurt and sadness. Until we accept it and decide to let it go.

A war on Advent!

You have heard the pundits. We have witnessed the rage. People complain about store clerks and grocery store checkers saying: “Happy Holidays!” I think this is an outrage. They just breezed over Advent.

I wonder what people would think if during this season before Christmas those poor retail employees said something like: “Thoughtful Advent to you!” or “Be prepared!” Sometimes they could say it with joy and sometimes they could say it with menace.

I imagine something along the lines of: “Good Afternoon Target Shoppers, all appliances are 20% off, you brood of vipers, repent!” Perhaps something like: “Welcome to Wal-Mart, he is coming with fire!” Of course, most folks would think they are quoting Game of Thrones.

This war on Advent must end! Or perhaps, we could prepare ourselves during Advent with being thoughtful and kind. We could spread this radical message of the coming light and peace. Thoughtful Advent to you!

Thank you!

I thought I would give a list of thanks. Sometimes I need a reminder of all the people, opportunities and things that I have. They are gifts. They are in no particular order.

I thank you God for life. I am so glad that I can wake up in the morning and experience another day. Sometimes I feel so tired, but I am glad that I can wake up and I look forward to each day’s adventure.

I thank you God for coffee. I love coffee. I am not sure I need to explain this. Even a fool would understand its importance.

I thank you God for my daughter. She is so funny and fun. She is kind and beautiful. I am so happy she loves me. I love her more every day.

I thank you God for friends and family. I don’t want to be alone. For better or worse, I am grateful for someone to be there with me on this adventure.

I know I don’t say it enough, but thank you. Thank you! Thank you!