East to West, West to East…and a very Merry Christmas to all!

The journey of the wise men took them from the east to the west…
and that’s the journey that Christianity took.
It started in Israel and it moves to Rome, the capital of the world.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(ode to my world / Julie Cook / 2020)

Is that a bunch of presents, all tied up with a bow?
Oh.
No.
No, it’s not.
Wait, where’s the tree???
Is there a tree??

Yes, it’s in the basement, ready to be loaded on a truck.

What you’re seeing is just a small snippet of boxes and bubble wrapped pieces all
from a home ready for moving.

Who moves during a pandemic?
Obviously, we do.

This will be our last Christmas in a house that has witnessed 21 of our 37 Christmases.
Yet we’re off to see the Mayor and Sherrif for Christmas…so the cats will have to
carry on Christmas day without us.

The catnip is locked up!

The quote I used today by Dr. Mazza is somewhat technically true.
Things did seem to travel from east to west.

I somehow think that our Orthodox brethren might be able to agree on that eastern part—
as when we think of the east…we think ‘Eastern’ Orthodox…
However, they might dispute that notion of Rome being the capital of the world as
that capital kind of moved, at some point in ancient time, to Constantinople
(modern-day Istanbul)–

And of course it did sort of move back Rome’s way before it began heading off west again, spiraling, splintering and dividing– but I digress…
So we’ll just leave that footnote to be argued by the theologians and historians.

And so here I am in the west, preparing to move to the east.
Perhaps a bit backward…however by going east, I might just be heading back homeward.

Things are beginning to look barren and sparse.

Before:

After:

So as I live amongst the boxes and now travel over to share a magical time with both
the Mayor and Sheriff–
just know that I wish each of you a joyous, safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas!!!

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be
taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).
And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread
the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things
they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:1-20

I love nurses–they exemplify everything God would like to see in us, His children.

Augustus was the son of a god and he asked the whole human race to swear loyalty
to him as “Father”.
It’s at this moment that God the Father sent the real Son of God into the world…
God works His providence even in the midst of human foibles.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(Vampire day, again / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well you may remember my tale from about a month ago…
my tale about having to go siphon off an entire pound of blood due to being a
Hemochromatosis carrier.

A hemo what you ask…??

Well, it seems that my body hordes iron.

And who knew that the body only uses what it needs—if there is excess,
well, the body simply stores it up in the organs…where it sits.
Think of a balloon simply filling up with more and more air…
eventually, something has got to give!

The high end of a normal iron level in the blood is 150.
I was sitting at 330…therefore, I have to be milked like a cow in order to
bring my levels down.
Sadly, I do not do well with giving blood.
I never have.
My blood pressure tends to bottom out and I basically get quite sick just before I pass out.

So yesterday was once again vampire day.
I had to go give blood.

I go to the hospital’s infusion center.
Folks are here for their chemotherapy, needed antibiotics, phlebotomies,
needed fluids, steroids…you name it.

Many are cancer patients.
They walked slowly and were pale.
They were minus all hair and bundled up due to the cold.

Many were on walkers or canes.
They were both young and old.

Four of us are divvied up into a quad with hospital chairs in each corner of the quad.
Some curtains were drawn some were not.

The nurses greeted each patient by name.
Many knew the regulars…mainly those who were the chemo patients.
“Hey darling” you’d hear a warbly voice call out to a familiar nurse.

The rapport was enough to make you feel that you were missing out
on some glorious secret friendship.
I felt almost envious as there were many
“I love yous” and “I love you too”—each sincerely and genuinely shared.
An intimate special moment shared between caregiver and patient…
human being to human being.

“Honey, you want me to get you something to drink?”
“How bout a ginger ale?”
“How bout a diet ginger-ale…it’s all we have.”
“That would be perfect!”

Some patients had recently undergone amputations due to infections or diabetes.
They were there to receive high-powered antibiotics.

“Mr. Gentry, we’ll see you back here on Christmas day, ok?”
“Christmas Day, really?!”
“Yes sir, we’ll be here…and so will you, you hear me?!”
“Well only if you wear your hair down…”
It seems that elderly Mr. Gentry, getting about on his walker, is a bit of a rounder
with these ladies—and they all seemed to love it.

He had part of his foot amputated this past week after having cut his foot this past summer
at the lake while playing with his grandkids.
These nurses were all well aware of his hijinks and played right into his devious intentions.
Mr. Gentry needs high-powered intravenous antibiotics every day for a couple of weeks.

I was enjoying soaking in these conversations all the while as I was slowly losing a part
of myself into a plastic bag dangling on the floor.

I really do ok up until the very end of my time being hooked up like a gas pump.
Right before I’m finished filling up the bag, that’s when things go downhill.

And true to form, today my BP fell to 63 over 34.
And true to their form, the nurses who saw all color fade from my body, came racing over
in order to flip my chair up so I was practically on my head,
they next threw a cold washcloth on my head.
They handed me a green puke bag…which thankfully I did not have to use.
My curtain wasn’t drawn and I would have hated being the show of my quad.

All of this was taking place while the nurses changed out the lines and immediately
began administering a bag of fluids.

It is amazing what these fluids can do.

I go from passing out and near-death to right back to the life of the living.

Slowly my BP climbed, but then oddly it dipped again.

This time it didn’t rebound like it did last time.
I didn’t rebound like I did last time.

The nurse had to walk me out to my car this time as I was still a bit woozy headed.

“Go straight home.”
“But I need to go to the grocery store.”
“Do that later!”

But before the nurses pulled my head up off the floor, one nurse came by each chair in our quad
and handed each patient a simple candy cane.
She made certain that each patient saw the story printed on the wrapper…
the story of the candy cane.

You can say what you want to say about Christianity and spirituality within such a setting…
You can throw in your sarcasm about faith in fairytales…but I will tell you one thing…
the folks in those chairs each appreciated their candy cane, mattered not their faith or creed–
they appreciated its story and the fact that one human being was offering hope to those whose
hope was starting to run on empty.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 Peter 4:10