Странное Рождество

Very important news:

After much, much, much ado, I have finally received my grades from Trinity. I passed!!!!!!

It would be inaccurate to say with flying colors, but colors hovering above the ground a bit is plenty good enough for me. I’d love to say that the saga is finally over, but graduation isn’t until the spring so I still haven’t technically ‘graduated’ even though I’ve earned the degree. Close enough.

So that’s an enormous weight off my chest. As much as I was expecting to pass, you never know until you know, you know? Anyway.

The cat pictures this week features Béégashii, the stray cat that my sister has partially adopted in Arizona. She claims that Béégashii (meaning Cow in Navajo) is basically the perfect cat and, having heard stories and video chatted with her, I’m inclined to agree. I hope you enjoy the very adorable Béégashii (pronounciation: BEG-uh-shee).

I have long had a great love of calligraphy and there are two phrases in particular that I would love to have done and framed and hung on my wall. These phrases have just stuck with me through the years, both from music, and I think a graphic representation would be the perfect way to combine their musical and artistic beauty. And I take no responsibility for these translations, just a little disclaimer.

The first, in Latin, would be in that great medieval, illuminated manuscript style.

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, quis sustinebit?

 If you mark our iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

The second comes from a Slavonic hymn we sang while on tour in Russia (Slavonic is to Orthodoxy as Latin is to Catholicism). It would be written in the tradition of Slavonic calligraphy as seen painted on frescoes in Orthodox churches and inlaid in gold on icons. 

Странное Рождество видевше устранимся мира, ум на небеса приложим. 

Having witnessed a wondrous birth, let us withdraw from the world and turn our minds toward the heavens.

Which is to say, the title of this post (STRAN-no-yeh rozh-dyest-VO) means ‘wondrous birth,’ or alternatively, ‘strange Christmas.’ I’m honestly not certain which I prefer.

Christmas is a strange thing, to be sure, and wondrous beyond imagining. The people who had been walking in darkness saw a great light. God, who had always been with us, became with us. And that is a truly remarkable thing. It’s one thing to hear that the Lord of the universe cares about you, it’s another to hear that he both knows your struggles and knows what it’s actually like to struggle. I’ve said many times (and the internet has said many more times) that 2016 has been a tough year to be living in the world–and Jesus also lived in tough times. And there’s something wondrous about that.

I don’t know if you remember the post I wrote a while back about having a ‘strange dinner’ but it is sort of a similar thing. Things are strange when they aren’t normal. Duh, you say. But think of it like this: normal is an absolutely relative term, anything can be normal if enough people do it. Jesus’ birth is strange because, in the scheme of world religions, it’s absolutely not normal. Word became flesh, dwelt among us, was perfect, and sacrificed himself for our salvation. What an inexpressible wonder.

I do not believe that we are to withdraw from this world in the sense of quitting humanity because humanity is the worst (which it definitely, totally is). Rather, I think Christmas is a time for us to recall of very strange Christmas is, to withdraw from normalcy, to relish the wondrous and distinctly abnormal God-Who-Came-Near. Turn your mind tower the heavens because our help cometh thence. Turn your mind to the heavens because they are infinitely strange and infinitely better than this poor, broken earth.

Anyway. I wish you all a very merry Christmas. May you enjoy time together and time apart. May you be blessed and may you bless others. May you be still in heart and in eye.

Clear, what we need is here.

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