My Posture is Bad, It’s Because of Aleppo, and Some Thoughts on the Lamb of God

My posture is bad, and it’s because of Aleppo.

Every time I try to straighten up, my shoulders hunch forward again a few seconds later, and I want to fall face first onto my desk and quit. Done, please. I’d like to be done with an unkind world that harms the vulnerable. I’d like to create a new one, instead, based on sanctuary and refuge and, damn it, on LOVE; I’m just not sure how to go about it.

Please understand, I’m not saying in any way that my posture matters in comparison with the devastation and despair in Syria. With lives destroyed. With everything undone. With evil running rampant. I’m just saying I’m watching and reading, and I’m caving in on myself, literally. Like my spirit can’t take it, and my body is, like, “RIGHT THERE WITH YOU, SPIRIT. SLOUCHING IN SOLIDARITY.”

We’re in a long, dark night of our collective humanitarian soul, and I feel helpless right now. We’re in the middle of the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever known — a crisis expected to grow — and more countries than ever are closing borders, electing isolationist demagogues (not to call names, but “ISOLATIONIST DEMAGOGUES!”), and pursuing policies that promote fear and xenophobia rather than loving our neighbors as ourselves. Ugh, friends. Ugh, ugh and ugh. Our momrades in Syria and Yemen and South Sudan are living every parent’s worst nightmare, and I’m busy making chicken and rice casserole for dinner and intermittently texting my college student to remind her never to do crack. “NEVER DO CRACK, Abby,” I text, not because I actually think she’ll do it, but because I dreamt she did and blew out a vein, and it’s a totally legit mommy thing to text your kid occasional, out-of-context DO NOT DO CRACK reminders when you’re worried about Aleppo. Right? Right. This makes sense, and I am completely sane.

Dark nights of the collective soul, friends; WE ARE IN THEM. Again. Still. In a world full of disaster and conflict. Suffering and inequity. And so we wait for the dawn. Again. Still. Believing daylight is coming. Or holding that hope for each other when we cannot hold hope for ourselves. Because let’s be honest; sometimes hope is slippery and hard to cling to.

…..

I stole my child’s toy as our Christmas tree topper, several years ago now, and I don’t plan to give it back.

This has nothing to do with Aleppo, but it seems right to put it here, so here it shall go.

It’s strange how traditions begin.

img_2736When I was a kid, we always had a drummer boy as our Christmas tree topper. He’s cardboard and cylindrical, possibly made out of a toilet paper tube, and he has a tuft of gold tinsel that flares at his feet. I don’t know his origins; I only know he’s the drummer boy and he ruled from atop our tree for the duration of my childhood, except for the year I found the penis warmer my mom knit my dad when they were newly-weds and replaced the drummer boy for a few weeks ’til Mom figured it out. So she had a few Bible studies at our house while the penis warmer was ensconced up there; no one DIED, Mom. 

Despite the fact that Greg and I tried a few angels at the top of our tree, and a star one year, nothing ever really stuck. Nothing was “our thing.” Nothing was the drummer boy. Or the penis warmer.

Until we accidentally stole the lamb.

img_2737It was a special gift for our middle child, made from felted wool by one of my besties, Melissa. She made it out of old sweaters the same year she made my twins little stuffed pigs, which are carefully preserved in their room.

I didn’t mean to steal the lamb. I especially didn’t mean to keep it. It’s just that there was a year when the dog absconded with it for the 40th time, and dragged it outside, and punctured its tail, and elongated its neck with all the chewing, and I had enough. Our tree was up. We hadn’t dug to the bottom of the boxes to find the angels. So I snagged that lamb to keep it out of the jaws of the dog, and I placed it on top of the tree and fell in love with it.

Now our Christmas tree topper is a lamb, impaled on a plastic tree.

I dunno. It seems somehow fitting. Not to take an analogy way too far, like I would ever, but do you ever feel like the Lamb of God is being impaled on plastic ideas of Christianity?

And yet, this lamb, which was made with Love from old, recycled garments, sewn by hand, and is beautiful and awkward and punctured and gangly, with its quizzical expression and odd sense of self, somehow gives me strange hope.

Like Love is paying attention to us despite the unseemly plastic all around.

Like what’s Weird and Aware and Authentic will triumph in the end over all the bullshit, theologically speaking, that we subject it to.

Like there’s a live and active Light that’s paying attention in the darkness. And like an Intentional Dawn will overcome the deep night.

Is that too much slippery hope to put into a stuffed toy? Too much slippery hope for an advent season that includes Aleppo?

Maybe.

Maybe it is.

Or maybe we need it more than ever.

Sending love, friends, and waiting with you in the dark for light on the horizon for all people,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
10 comments
  1. And this is why I have cocooned myself into the life I want to live and the things I want to see. I don’t watch the news anymore. Ever. I only have a vague knowledge of what’s going on in Aleppo, and most of it came from this post. I can’t do anything to help in situations like that, so making myself insecure, and scared, and sad, and worried, and starting the “what if that happened here” scenarios in my head? That’s not going to be good – not for me, not for anyone I can impact, and not even for people who are suffering somewhere I can’t get to and I can’t help. So I avoid the knowledge of that stuff as much as possible. I also hide the feeds of my friends who insist on posting abused animal stories. Does this make me a bad person? I feel like this is what I have to do to be able to live in this world and not fall apart…

  2. […] and collectively carried that are simply too much. Too huge. Too overwhelming to bear. Loss. Grief. Uncertainty. Illness. Unkindness. Helplessness. Fear for ourselves and mostly for others who are […]

  3. I think a lamb–made with care, loved by a child, and wounded by life–striving however awkwardly toward Heaven is a perfect metaphor–and a perfect tree-topper.

    And I think sending random texts of “DON’T EVER DO CRACK” are a perfect metaphor for the fact that we’ll be freakin’ parents until we die. I haven’t had bangs for 25 years but if I did, my mom would still try to push them out of my face (using a little bit of spit on her hand as ‘product’.)

  4. […] to doing what she wants when she wants to do it. She’s been putting up with your constant, helpful texts, reminding her, for example, NEVER TO DO CRACK. Now’s your chance to pay her back for her patience by not losing your ever-loving crap when […]

  5. It’s not often your posts make me cry more than laugh. Yes, it all seems so hopeless. I now avoid the news because I just can’t cope with the sadness, but that seems so pathetic when there are people who are living (and dying) that news. It feels like everyone is hardening their hearts. The politicians are responding to people’s lower instincts instead of persuading them that opening our hearts and borders, even when our own economies are not doing well, is the right thing. There was a debate in Parliament here, just this week, where politicians stated that our country (and the rest of the West) needed to admit that they were responsible for what has happened in Syria. Everyone was so scared to act and get sucked into another war and now we are seeing the consequences.
    Your tree is far too tasteful. Ours is a crazed jumble of mismatched ornaments, hung with all the good taste of a 9yo and 3yo who seemed to be in a race to put up the most ornaments. (I did break my own rule on letting children’s work stand, and rearranged some ornaments since 3yo put all hers in a 9 inch square space.)

  6. 1989-1991 the Berlin Wall came down, Nelson Mandela walked free from jail, the Soviet Union dissolved, granting freedom to countries that had suffered a 50 year invasion, and the song on the radio celebrated that “the world wakes up from history.”

    It was such an optimistic time to be coming of age. It really felt like the world was moving forward, that good triumphed in the end, that positive change was inevitable.

    I’m older now, and this year has been one of discouragement and grief. Sometimes I feel a panicky sense of needing to hold on to what I have with both hands, because I no longer believe that my peace and safety are guaranteed, even as someone of privilege in the US. I feel sad and helpless, and I find my hand reaching for the knob to turn the radio dial from the news to music, because it just keeps coming and coming, and what can I do?

    But one thing I know is that you have to keep trying. I will never be the person I want to be, but I have to keep trying. This world will never be the new one you dream of, but we have to keep trying.

    Your words and stories are such an encouragement. (Though your photo is somewhat discouraging, showing an appalling lack of clutter and mess as is does. I will tell myself it is carefully staged and angled and cropped.)

  7. I just enjoy reading your posts so much. Your tree is beautiful, and how the lamb came to sit atop it is a wonderful story for the ages.
    Waving to you from the not so dark… 🙂

  8. “Do you ever feel like the Lamb of God is being impaled on plastic ideas of Christianity?” Which is why I hate the ‘You MUST say Merry Christmas!’ battle. BTW, your tree corner is lovely…

  9. Except for what Cherice said, no comment necessary. This post sums it up perfectly.

  10. “Do you ever feel like the Lamb of God is being impaled on plastic ideas of Christianity?” Yes. This sums up my view of American Christianity perfectly. SIgh. Also a great phrase: slippery hope. Thanks for this post!

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