Decades of gilt*

The star on top of the Christmas trees of my childhood was an object lesson in living with your choices. My parents purchased it early in their marriage, and it sat atop their trees in all it's gilded glory, with a red satin ball ornament at it's center, for over thirty years. My mother hated the star and frequently threatened to replace it with something more aesthetically pleasing, even...gasp!...perhaps a porcelain angel. But, as every mother knows, once something as important as a tree topper becomes part of the family legend in the children's eyes, there is simply no replacing it without a veil of tears! So she bided her time - waiting until the star was decrepit enough and we children were infrequent visitors to replace it's dear points. (I must interject here and state that I have no idea what currently tops my parents tree...I am much too scarred by the removal of the sacred star to have noticed!) The gilded plastic star was handed down to me, and topped our tree for one meager season before shooting off the top of the 7 1/2'
pine in our living room and shattering on the wood floor, thanks to an overzealous 10-month-old who enjoyed a brief moment of tree-rattling before being thoroughly reprimanded.

That was two weeks ago, and I took this photo that sunny afternoon, gathering up the shards of worn gold and lovingly setting them in the sun for a few more moments of memories before they were put in the trash. I thought of important they are while we dwell in them, how we cling to them, how we lament them when they are over. How all of life, all humanity, suffers seasons...relationships, personal growth, even our physical health waxes and wanes through periods of fertile robustness and times of bleak, gray brittleness. We all have symbols that are tied inexorably to seasons in our past. This star was tied to a host of childhood memories, good and bad: the smell of my dad's clothes as he bent over my little body to take the star from place among the tree ornaments every Christmas; years when I sullenly walked through the motions of decorating the tree, pent up in the internal struggles and passions of adolescence. I never once thought of the star as beautiful, yet it was far from ugly. Representation not only of the sacred Christmas season, but of loyalty and honor and frugality.

Cancer is a season. There is that chance that it might be my last season...a period of exponential growth and heartbreak and intensity of love and joy that culminates in a goodbye. A season that ushers in the next world instead of the next season here on this mortal ground. And it might be a middle season. The year I turn thirty, the year I grow my first white hairs, the year I learn how precious life is to me, the year I learn a new layer of appreciation for what I've been given. The year I battled cancer. I might look back at this stage someday with longing as I drive myself by my will to learn more about God, as I propel myself consciously to grow and change and yearn and desire. This is a season when God has done all of that motivation for me, built it into the situation. Like the shattered star, it is a time when symbols and reprentations are being shed and abolished, and I am learning with new depth to be with God. I am learning what it feels like to be present with Him, penitent and rejoicing, failing yet looking up at His face rather than hanging my head in disgrace. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34 ESV)

Oh Great and Mighty One, with one desire we come
That you would reign, that you would reign in us
We're offering up our lives, a living sacrifice
That you would reign, that you would reign in us

Spirit of the Living God fall fresh again
Come search our hearts and purify our lives
We need your perfect love
We need your discipline
We're lost unless you guide us with your light

Lord Jesus come lead us
We're desperate for your touch
~ Reign in Us, Starfield

*yes, Mama, I am your daughter and delight in a good play on words!