Friday, December 22, 2006

Introducing Three Tramps

Three Tramps specializes in synergizing the traditional forms of classical and bluegrass with interpretive dance, creative culinary delights, and dramatic readings of great literature.

Martine plays oboe, viola, and chopsticks. Petra plays violin, piano, and French Horn. Paul makes up for his general lack of musical talent by a dent of hard work and sheer creative genius

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Light

Christmas is supposed to be a season of gladness and joy, but it can be marked by fear, depression, and loneliness. The Spirit of Christmas may get lost in the Santa suits and tinsel. When the wrapping paper is in the trash, and the credit card bills are in the mail, we sometimes feel more tired and stressed then ever. The lights of Christmas are frequently followed by greater darkness.
Tonight, we grieve with the families of the climbers who were lost on Mt Hood, and those of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. As we celebrate Christmas, much of Africa is starving and naked. Yes, darkness settles deeply over some parts of our world, and it’s cold fingers touch us through death or illness of friends or family, or through the invidious doubts and fears John Bunyan called “the giant Despair”

My mother loves hunting for good out of print books. One of her greatest finds was “Just David”. David’s mother died when he was four, and his father, a world famous violinist, took David to an isolated mountain hut. Over the next six years, far from the corrupting influences of wealth and power, David became a brilliant violinist. Father and son lived in peaceful secrecy to avoid the public eye. In fact, David never learned his father’s name. Then David’s father became deathly ill. He tried to take David back to civilization and the musical world they had left, but died in a remote village. Before he passed on, he gave David a large amount of money and wrote a note to David’s relations, and signed his name. The villagers were familiar with the name, but failed to associate it with the sick man’s illegible signature. An indebted farmer took pity on David and gave him bed and board in exchange for David’s daily labor. Months passed. Weeding and stacking wood left little time for the violin, and the villagers mocked David’s music. David dreamed of escaping the village and using his father’ money to start a musical career. Then the mortgage on the farm came due. Not knowing the value of money, David used all his father’s money to redeem the farm. As winter approached, David seemed doomed to spend his life cutting wood . One day, David happened upon an old sundial. Its face contained this inscription: “I count no hours but unclouded ones”. David stopped counting clouded hours and started living for light.
Focusing on sunny times and sunny people brings us light and happiness. I remember watching Petra during orchestra rehearsals. At first, it was just an occasional sidelong glance. By the semester’s end I was having trouble reading my music. Two years ago last Thursday, Petra agreed to accompany me to a concert at the Kennedy center. I spent most of that Christmas break weaving her a basket and making plans. February 14 found me waiting for her to go to Greek class, sneaking into her dorm room, and writing my name in glow-in-the-dark stars above her bed. Several canoe trips, dozens of fruit smoothies, and a series of duct tape notes later, she agreed to be my girlfriend. Last summer, sometime between June 3 and 4, I asked her to marry me. She said yes. It was the happiest moment of my life.
Christmas should be the happiest time of year, but sometimes it’s so full of junk that we don’t have time to look for light. What does Santa have to do with baby Jesus? What does black Friday have to do with the stable? Why do we limit our gifts to those who reply in kind? God gave His Son to us, knowing that we could never repay or understand the sacrifice. Shouldn’t we spend part of this Christmas feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for homeless, and visiting those in prison?
David didn’t keep the sundials wisdom to himself. He couldn’t. His newfound joy infected the village, and shadows of wealth and pride gave way to the light of kindness and love.
This hasn’t been an easy year. My grandfather was nearly crippled by a bungled back surgery, my grandmother died in September, and law school has eaten my best time, energy, and most of my hair. I’m sure that each one of you has suffered as well. Looking to the light can be difficult. Sometimes everything seems dark.
We often lack the time to meet our needs, never mind reaching those of others.
David’s hours were mostly cloudy, and he had plenty of sorrows without bothering about those of the people around him. But he chose to live for light, and carried its joy to the rest of the village.
It is my hope and prayer that during this Christmas season, we, like the Wise Men of old, will look for light, look to the Christ child, the source of all light and warmth, and reflect His love and care to those less fortunate then we.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God Is

Even during exams