I sent the following abstract art to some family members by email this morning. I entitled it "Christmas Sunrise" because it's bright and hopeful, ablaze with the cool blues of winter as if rising in the east.
It is not really a sunrise, of course. It is a million processed pixels captured through a pinhole lens in my Iphone as we were opening presents this morning. The picture can be whatever you want it to be, whatever you associate with the blessings you tend to take for granted all year 'round until Christmas morning when you see them bright as day in the faces beyond the strewn giftwrap on the floor.
We are in Kansas, in the house my wife and her parents and two sisters have called home for forty-five years. I've written of it before
here at POI. It's been a tradition to come here for Christmas since Julie and I were married in1980. (For most of our married life we rotated back and forth each year between Julie's parents and mine in Michigan
, but for several years--since Mom passed away--we have come to Kansas.)
This Christmas was different than others we've spent here. It is not distance that makes this visit different, but rather an acute awareness of closeness: the closeness of hugs and smiles and the miracle of being alive.
It is that miracle that is masked in the photo above. Maybe the warmer hues of this second rendition called "Solar Flair" will give a hint of the reality behind the abstract.
Two weeks ago tonight it happened.
My sister-in-law Nancy was driving home from work. She reached to turn the knob of her radio, and her hand simply missed the knob. She missed and missed again. Her whole arm seemed numb. She pulled off the road and called her son who lived just a few miles away. Long story short... within a few hours she was in an ambulance headed for the local hospital. By late Thursday night, she was calling her sisters with the news: Brain tumor. Surgery soon. Please come.
Needless to say, Nancy's husband Eddy is a solid rock for his wife (his 6'4" height reflects an even bigger heart). The call to the sisters is a sister thing. The desire to have loved ones near when facing uncertainty reflects not a void but a fullness. I will simply say that Julie and I have both been blessed to be part of such families.
Julie's parents and other sister were there the next day, and Julie was there by Saturday. Surgery was Sunday, and all went well. The tumor, though quite large, was benign, and the surgeon was confident no further treatment would be necessary. That is our prayer. The surgeon was a short man and witnesses say that when Eddy gave him an extended and earnest hug when the ordeal was over, it looked like a scene from Schwarzenegger and DiVito in "Twins."
Nancy was released to go home three days later, and a week later she and Eddy her their whole family were with us sitting around the Christmas tree. I was taking pictures of the festivities when I found myself standing over Nancy's shoulder. I asked her if she would mind if I took a picture of her beautiful memorial to th Christmas blessing of 2014. She didn't mind at all. In fact, she said it felt very strange to pack for this short trip home and not need a blow dryer or curling iron.
Much of our conversation this Christmas has centered around the endless bits of good news that have stemmed from that initial bad news eleven days ago.
Here is the original unprocessed phtograph of Nancy's healing scalp. It is more beautiful than the processed photos of it above. The twenty-nine stitches come out Monday.
Blessings and beauty, whether as near as a hug or as far the rising sun, are all a matter of perspective and perceptions miraculously formed and treasured in the mind.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!