“I'm torn between what keeps me whole and what tears me in half
I'll fall apart or stay intact
With tired eyes I stumble back to bed
I need to realize my sorry life's not hanging by a thread
At least not yet”
-Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More – Relient K
I’ve stumbled upon listening to the Relient K Christmas Album Let It Snow Baby…Let it Reindeer; and to be honest I have enjoyed the quirky twist on familiar carols and Christmas tunes along side some of Relient K’s very own original Christmas songs. It isn’t the first time that I’ve listened to these songs out of season, there is something comforting about listening to Christmas music, it is nice to hear that warm and up lifting music…
This afternoon I got back from the Fall Cluster Meeting for the Vancouver/Oregon region of interns. I wasn’t sure what to expect and there was a large part of me that wanted to speak out against the $90 fee that came alongside it. But I decided to give the 17+ hours we had together the benefit of the doubt (we met at 7pm on Tuesday and were over at lunch today). I am glad that I spent the time and energy to go to this retreat/meeting because it allowed me to meet the other interns for the first time since I’ve entered the great green Northwest. There was a total of five intern/internship supervisor pairs plus the contextual leadership coordinator for the region, we were missing one intern/supervisor pair but hopefully they will be able to make it in the spring. The retreat was a time to get to know the other interns in the area and their pastors and see where each other was in the process. And let me say thank God for the fact that I was able to interact with my peers for the first time since I left the seminary in August! I have been deprived of interaction within a peer group for the most part and I was really starting to notice the fact that I was lacking any sort of social life.
The night started as one might expect, introductions and a quick discussion and then the group split, interns in one room and supervisors in another. It was such a treat to be able to hear the other intern’s stories on how they got out to Washington or Oregon and how they have been able to do ministry in each of the different congregations. For some of us, the Pacific Northwest was a brand experiences and for others, well they had lived here a number of years before they started seminary or internship so it wasn’t as new and exciting. And as different as each of our sites were, there were so many common experiences between us. It was nice to know that there were people like me, seminary students on internship that were experiencing the same things that I was.
After our small group discussion we gathered back together to discuss what we had shared. It was a nice little discussion but what I really appreciated was what happened next, free time! I know that sounds like a junior higher at bible camp, but it was true. I just wanted to talk and find out more about these people. But the first thing we did was play a game of pictionary that had the most fluid rules I had ever seen in a game. It was fun and it made way for discussion after the game was over. We started chatting about beer and baseball and it soon took the form of the ever changing conversation that could have possibly gone on until sunrise, it didn’t but it did go until 1am.
The morning was quick in coming and not well received by myself. I was ready for another 1-4 hours of sleep and I really wished that I could have spent the morning just talking with the interns; instead we spent the time in a mini-workshop on Spiritual Direction which included a walk through the labyrinth and guided listening/discussion. It was soon lunch time and I thoroughly felt refreshed (if not extremely tired) from the 17 hours with my peers. And even though I had to go to the office for a few hours to work and I still have more stuff to do tonight, I am renewed and ready for the rest of the week.
…It’s so easy to forget that we need to be lifted up and to be in relationship with other people. And I really hadn’t received either of those since I’ve started internship. Sure I’ve been told that I’ve done a good job and that people appreciated my internship but I have yet to make any new friends or really feel like I’m in a true relationship with those that are around me. And maybe that is what’s so inviting about listening to Christmas music, it reminds us of family, friends and times of warmth, relationship and being lifted up. And I think that is why I’m so attracted to this particular Relient K song right now; the final two verses go:
So look at me now
It’s finally Christmas and I'm home
Head indoors, to get out of this weather
And I don't know how
But the closest friends I've ever known are all inside
Singing merry Christmas, here's to many more
Deck the halls with mistletoe
May all your heavy burdens go
Up the chimney in a cloud of smoke
The fire's burning bright
Strike up the band and play the tune
Cause Christmas will be here and soon
You'll hear our song in every room
This merry Christmas night
To be around our closest friends and family is definitely the greatest gift of the holidays and I can only hope to be so lucky as to have one or two of my closest friends and family near me this Christmas.
Either way, I know that I’m not hanging on by a thread and that I’m not being torn in half. I know that I have close friends and family. I know that no matter where I am and where my friends and family are, they will love me with a love that knows no bounds or space. I know that once Christmas comes, they will be with me even if I cannot see them. And I know, with every fiber of my being, that there are many more Merry Christmas’ to share and enjoy with my friends and family. And in the end, I’ll be okay.
So here’s to listening to Christmas music, any time of year.