Glimpses of Christmas.

I had an impacted wisdom tooth pulled on Friday, and a bad nite with pain. I suspected a reaction to the antibiotic that they gave me which I had never heard of. So bad that I checked into an Emergency Room in the middle of the nite at 12:30 am. I had never seen so many people in the waiting room, some who looked really sick.

Something was wrong with this picture. I checked again at the desk and he said there are no beds available for all these people. I still don’t know if this was due to a surge in flu, as is the situation in Kansas, or a surge in Covid that I haven’t heard about in Albuquerque.

I drove home and went back to bed. Felt better later in the day, and decided to walk down the arroyo to do some rock-hounding.

The arroyo 5 minutes from my home in Albuquerque. Flowing water is a rare sight in this area of high desert.

What makes it feel like Christmas?
#1. After gathering a bagful of agates I approached a large boulder just as a roadrunner, the state bird of New Mexico, jumped up on the boulder from the other side. I stopped suddenly. Just three feet away, the bird looked me up and down for a few seconds. Then the bird jumped back down and hopped away, too quick for me to take a photo. This was a gift of nature – I’ve never before been this close to a roadrunner.

#2. Mary Ann and her daughter Kim, who live in Independence Kansas, presented me with a light box last week – the kind that photographers use to examine their negatives. On the light box we laid the fire-agates we had found at Saddle Mountain outside Phoenix.

Many of these agates allow light to shine through and this brings out their contours and their color, all caused by excessive volcanic pressure and temperature. It was exciting to see the insides of these wonderful stones, as well as the outsides. Many of these stones were even more magical when viewed on the light box.

Fire agates. The white colors are regular agates and some can transmit light. The red color is due to extra volcanic heat and pressure – the rock burns.

#3. My pickleball friend drove me to the dentist yesterday because the procedure sedated me and prohibited me from driving. We barely know each other, but I felt I could count on him. He was also kind enough to take me later to pick up the antibiotics from the pharmacy. He graciously gave up his pickleball morning to help me.

#4. A friend who used to clean my home had to give up when she couldn’t physically stand and clean any more. She told me recently in a card:

A heartfelt thank you for being so generous. What a blessing you are in my life. Love and peace and understanding always.

#5. Two friends who now live in Albuquerque were involved for many years in ministry to hippies who lived in the mountains outside of Santa Fe in the 1970s and 1980s. Many who were Jewish decided to follow Jesus and their life became purposeful.

Several years ago, my friends’ daughter died, and their three grandchildren were separated from them in Alaska – with very little contact. The recent news is a blessing — the Alaskan family is planning to move to Albuquerque to live.

#6. Another two friends, who live in the cold and snowy north, have reached out to a middle-aged lady who has been sailing through rough seas with alcohol and relationship problems. After several years, the lady recently responded to their kindness, but has since backed away. People have to reconcile with their personal choices.

#7. I have a huge tree in my front yard and this Fall it dropped an intimidating amount of leaves. A friend suggested I hire one of the local schoolboys to help me. Reyes, about 10, from next door volunteered.

By the time I batteried up my new leaf blower, he was already raking and bagging. Pretty soon out comes his dad and mom, and they pitched in too. In a couple of hours we had about 10 large black garbage bags full of leaves. A job that I had dreaded turned into a pleasant afternoon project with my generous neighbors.

#8. A lady, aged 30 plus, bumped into me a few times while walking her three small dogs. One time she told me her life and marriage were in turmoil. I said, if you need help please call me, and I thought I meant it.

She did – one Sunday evening she showed up on my doorstep with a bag of clothes and three dogs. At that instant, the thought flashed through my mind of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. I opened the front door.

She had just started a new job, so I baby-sat her dogs for three days, until she came to my home after work. When I had to leave town at the end of the week, she found a place to stay with another friend.

The lady was broken when she showed up at my front door, and her tears and fears showed it. But now over a year later, she is divorced and has found a house and has been able to pay the mortgage each month as her job has stabilized. She wears a big smile when I greet her on the street. Here’s what she sent me on a card last Easter:
Celebrating the miracle of Easter, the beauty of God’s creation, and the blessing of having a friend like you in my life.

#9. Christmas distils a spirit of rest and peace and hope into my soul. Jesus said it quite plainly:
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

And one of my pickleball buddies said it in his own words, “He’s an anchor to hold onto during the problems of life.”

The Gray Nomad. I wish for you a blessing of rest and peace and hope that seeps deep into your soul this Christmas.

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1 year ago

Ian, thank you for sharing these inspiring stories. They are a source of certainty in my (sometimes) sea of confusion.

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