Finished up my 12th Blue Christmas service last Friday. It is a rich time every year as those who are hurting have a place to be still and contemplative and grieve in community. Thanks to Amanda Cavallero, Mark Bliss and Rick Deno for leading. Dec. 21, 2012
***Warning*** The following post contains R-rated language. It is a true story from Christmas season 1999 that I post each year.
Was reminded to post this by the painful news of a suicide by the teenage son of friends we went to church with in Colorado. Dec. 18, 2010 BW
The last evening class of the fall semester was over. I felt a warm sense of accomplishment and relief as I turned away from the lightly dusted white foothills into the dark and cold of my twenty-year old neighborhood. Soon the dark gave way to the many houses adorned with flashing and not flashing lights. Icicles seemed to be a popular style of light this year along with the usual array of red and green and, of course, Santa, reindeer, angels and sleighs.
As I turned onto my street I noticed some newly hung lights in front of my house. They were the flashing kind. Instantly, I became concerned and peered across the street at my neighbor's house. Richie, Candy, their Dalmatian, Honda and their Basset, Lightning lived across the way. My heart and soul turned downcast and pained. Richie had been battling with cancer for a decade and it had recently turned up again for maybe the last time. Was he dead?
I went inside to see if Ann was home. She was tending to something downstairs. I grabbed my heavy coat as the temperature was dropping rapidly. I stood on the slope of my driveway to catch a glimpse past the newly hung lights to the house across the way. Just what was going on in there? I saw some men go in and out of the vehicles adorned with the newly hung lights. I didn't disturb them. They seemed to be pressed for time.
The fuzzy-haired blond from next door came strolling around the trees that separate our houses. She had on biking shorts and a tee shirt. The freezing sidewalk didn't seem to alter her gait. She walked in front of my driveway, peered around the newly hung lights and said, "Fuck." As she turned and noticed me she offered, "Oh, excuse me."
I felt some anger at her comment. Being that I am a follower of the Nazarene she thought that I would be offended. I was miffed at not being allowed to be human. Did she think that I would be more concerned about a cuss word than I would be about a man's life? I suppose she could have said that her soul was downcast and pained at seeing the newly hung lights. I thought fuck captured the same sentiment. Soon she arrived back outside with a bit more clothing on, but still not as much as me. Her husband joined us. Ann came out as well.
Some parents drove up and hurried inside the house across the way. The woman carried a bible. I told the fuzzy-haired blond that I thought fuck was a good expression for the moment. She explained to her husband. We all smiled a bit.
Soon, a sheriff's man in a brown uniform came past the newly hung lights and asked us to go inside. He said the family didn't want us outside to see her body as they brought it out. HER body? He said he would come and tell us what he could after she was gone. HER body?
After a while he came to the door. He said she may not make it. The image from the house across the way was of the word Everlast cinched around her neck in bug-eyed, bloody irony. Her last step had found only air.
Lord, my soul is downcast and pained.