Wednesday, November 25, 2009

seeking perfection

In various conversations, overheard comments and facebook statuses, I've heard hints of a similar theme lately. The theme is a longing for a simpler time, a less commercial time, a time when all of our loved ones could be together in the same place at the same time. If you will, a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Everybody laughing, loving and a perfectly cooked turkey:

Freedom from Want

Sadly, our realities often don't match up to our dreams and the upcoming holidays fall woefully short of the visions we see presented in commercials, Hallmark cards and magazine layouts.

Loved ones are missing from the gathering, whether they are celebrating elsewhere or are no longer with us. Families are broken. Aunt Myrtle is too bossy, Uncle Horatio is too loud and opinionated and Samantha and Fred's kids are spoiled brats. Our families are not perfect. Not like everyone else's.

After hearing a pastor quote from The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, I borrowed it from Tim and Suzi (who have a fabulous library which Joshua desperately wanted to re-arrange). It is a small book containing five addresses given by Lewis.

I am still savoring and meditating on the first which contains thoughts like this:

If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny,
then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious,
must bear at best only a symbolic relationship to what will truly satisfy.

In other words, in my opinion, when we long for the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas with perfect family relationships where no one hurts someone's feelings or is crude or ugly, what we are really longing for is heaven. And only heaven will satisfy our longings. Our best family holidays are only pictures of what is to come. We see 'through a glass darkly' (I Cor. 13:12).

Later in the address he talks about our relationships with other people.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also truly hidden.

We are made in God's image (Gen. 1:27). Those who sit around our table tomorrow bear His image, though I must admit it is easier to see it in some than in others. Your family, your Thanksgiving, may not be perfect but recognize that perfection will not be achieved this side of heaven.

Take time to be grateful, to enjoy. And should your family member's quirks drive you batty; follow artist Mary Engelbreit's advice:

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

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