Monday, December 15, 2014

Norris Family Christmas Communique - 2014

Christmas Joy from Clan Norris of (originally) South Pasadena
For years, I have heard my sweet wife telling friends, more particularly new parents, that “The days seems long, but the years rush by”.  I just Googled that, and it is a Nancy Norris original, found nowhere else on the Interwebs.  As 2014 closes, we find ourselves a living testament to that idea this year.  We have no idea what happened to 2014.  But if we will just pause for a minute, we will recall it as a year packed with so very much to be thankful for, lots to celebrate, some losses to mourn, and countless moments, people and friendships for which we are deeply, abidingly thankful.  Your friendship tops the thankful list.  With that in mind, below find “A Year in the Life of The Norris’ “, as related to Dad via emails from all points on the compass, and forthwith semi-faithfully retold.

LA / Chicago / Elsewhere 
This has been a year of transition, change, and a return to one last year in beloved Chicago for Kelly.  For the past six months, she has returned to the City of Broad Shoulders to serve as a nanny for, in Kelly’s words: “two very fun boys, ages 4 and 8, and a very generous and loving pair of parents”.  Nancy and I can personally vouch for this family’s hospitality and warmth, after enjoying a late September feast outdoors on the patio at their home.  Kelly has a heart to see the world; and was also able to visit New Orleans, have great friends visit her in Chicago, and join her whole family for the Bruin / Husky game in Seattle.  What a fun weekend was that!  The past year also found her in Costa Rica for a remarkable six week immersion into the Spanish language; as well as the rain forests and tropical coastal waters.  Kelly is preparing for her eventual vocation as an elementary grade teacher here in LA, very likely with a classroom of largely Spanish speaking children.  I tell people all the time; given her caring heart and love for kids, Kelly is now, and will continue to be one of my greatest heroes.

What Rain?  Life in Seattle
Heather continues to love her life at UW in Seattle!  She is so very thankful for “my awesome, encouraging, thoughtful” Seattle community of friends.  Nancy and I have met many of these folks; they are indeed a warm, fun, thoughtful and remarkable group.  Might we all be so blessed.  She was accepted (hurray!) into the psychology program at school this past fall, and is starting to think more seriously about an additional degree in nursing after graduation.  This past summer Heather again served at YSSC Camp near Yosemite, and was filled to the brim with hard work, the beauty of Creation, and joy in serving kids and God.  Never one to sit still for long, at the dinner table when she was three years old, or today; Heather is off to Ireland soon after Christmas for a semester at University College Dublin.  Adventure awaits!

Of Faith, Service, Laughter, Joy
Nancy feels that each day is a gift.  She is thankful to continue serving as the Board Chair/Volunteer of Club 21 an agency serving families with Down Syndrome.  As a newer non-profit, Club21 is more financially stable and is growing in many ways.  More than these things, it is amazing to watch these beautiful, courageous families and children make new friends, discover learning resources, and find belonging and hope.  This must be what pure joy looks like!  Nancy has also begun mentoring young girls through Elizabeth House, a home for pregnant, homeless women in Pasadena.  And if that were not enough, during the past year she has been key in the welcoming two recent college grads in to our home as guests while they begin life in the Real World.  It has been loads of fun to have their energy, appetites, long conversations that matter, laughter, and friends grace our home in this season of their lives…and ours!  She misses the Norris girls, but since the Fall brought us together in Seattle and Chicago, her heart is full indeed.

This Wondrous Ride - Dad
And then there is Dad.  I have somehow mysteriously reached the season in life where I must admit I am well in the depths of middle age.  And this same season offers more of a long view; a perspective on all this going and coming, these great gifts in the form of two active and now adult daughters and the daily affection and partnership of a remarkable wife.   

How did we all get here, all of us, to just this place?  Where are those smallish hands of little girls I used to hold in mine, those tiny giggles from the back seat of the car, driving to some sporting event with friends.  Alas, those hands are larger now, and beautiful, and offered to lift others up, to give courage, to provide friendship and love.  Those voices have matured and become more graceful.  How has life turned out like this?  Is this just random happenstance, or might there be some great Author writing all this, making this story both often beautiful and sometimes frightening?

The answer to these questions is perhaps found within the verses a of a Christmastide sonnet (found below), entitled “Descent”, and written by our new friend Malcolm Guite, who is an Anglican priest, chaplain, poet, and singer-songwriter living in Cambridge, England.  Nancy and I met Malcolm earlier this year at a retreat in the Texas hill country, and found him a true renaissance man of great insight and hilarity.  He also is a dead ringer for Santa!  I would encourage you read this piece slowly, ponder its meaning, and perhaps share it with those you love over the Holidays.

Christmas Peace, Joy, Laughter, and Love to all from our home to yours!


They sought to soar into the skies
Those classic gods of high renown
For lofty pride aspires to rise
But you came down.

You dropped down from the mountains sheer
Forsook the eagle for the dove
The other Gods demanded fear
But you gave love

Where chiseled marble seemed to freeze
Their abstract and perfected form
Compassion brought you to your knees
Your blood was warm

They called for blood in sacrifice
Their victims on an altar bled
When no one else could pay the price
You died instead

They towered above our mortal plain,
Dismissed this restless flesh with scorn,
Aloof from birth and death and pain,
But you were born.

Born to these burdens, borne by all
Born with us all ‘astride the grave’
Weak, to be with us when we fall,
And strong to save.

- Malcolm Guite
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