Hello, Holderness and welcome back! I’m so happy to be back in this space together as a community. You’ll notice the beautiful Christmas decorations are still up. Does anyone have a guess why?
They are up because it is still Christmas. You know, on that weird church calendar I follow. Christmas is 12 days. And today is the 11th day. 11 pipers piping. So I’ve hired 11 bagpipers to come in at this time and play. Come on in guys. Just kidding. A third of you looked. Gotcha.
I had hoped to publicly thank Fr. Weymouth for all his work with these decorations, but he is dealing with snow at his house. I’m deeply grateful for his labor of love and the hours he spent on making this place so beautiful for Christmas. I’m also thankful for his support and for taking the reins for me at the last minute when my wife Hannah fell on the ice and broke her knee 45 minutes before the Hanging of the Greens service. I hated I couldn’t be with you for that service and Lessons and Carols.
It has been four weeks since that injury and three weeks since the surgery. Since that event, I’ve spent 100% of my energy and focus on caring for her and our three high energy kids. When you say your wedding vows there is that part about “in sickness and in health.” Thankfully we’ve both been healthy. I had never before been called upon to be the full-time parent, cook, launderer, housekeeper, husband guy before. To describe my experience, I have often reached for the immortal words of Karl, “ThaGod,” Jeannot: This injury has really “Jacked my Flow.” It has been hard. I hope I have become a better father and husband. But I have experienced so many moments of being strangely overwhelmed by gratitude for my family. For a purpose in life. For Holderness. Hannah is recovering nicely now and we are going to survive.
There were some dark moments for me early on. Around the same time this happened, my baby stopped sleeping. Like, at all. Everyone in the house was suddenly off routine and stressed and acting out. Like I said before about my flow: totally jacked.
A lyric from the Bill Withers song “Lean on Me” somehow rose in my consciousness and got lodged in my brain. “No one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.” I knew I need to reach out for help. Which is really hard for me. It’s a character flaw. I prefer to look like I can handle everything with minimal effort. I’m so glad I reached out for help. I had no choice. We survived because of that help. So many of my colleagues on the faculty and administration reached out to deliver food, walk a dog, watch a baby, or go shopping for us. My parents drove here in two days from where they were in Mississippi. So many people gave of themselves so we could be stronger. That was my Christmas present.
I can’t stop thinking about that Withers lyric. “No one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.” I have realized that because I became weaker, today I am stronger. Because I became weaker, today I am stronger.
No one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.
Ms. Sparkman has introduced the theme of invisible abilities/disabilities. As we begin thoughtfully engaging what it means to live as a community with invisible conditions that affect the daily lives of so many, I hope we’ll all keep in mind the power of empathy and vulnerability. When we can share from our weakness, we crack open barriers that divide us, and we can become stronger people, a stronger community. When we give of ourselves either out of strength or vulnerability, we all become stronger.
The Christmas season may be nearing an end, but the spirit of giving should guide us every day. The truth about Christmas gifts is that you are a gift...to someone. To some person, you are a gift. Figure out for whom that is and go give yourself. Merry Christmas.