Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Norris Family Christmas Update - 2015

Annual Update of the Scattered Norris Clan
Another year has passed, and thus the time when we share a bit of our lives with those dear in a simple letter.  If for just a moment, might you pause in the midst of the Holiday whirlwind to sit with us; to stop, and take stock, reflect on the passing of time, and give thanks for it all, both the bitter and the sweet?  And in giving thanks we remember the greatest gift of all, the unexpected child born in a barn, who changed the course of our lives and all history.

This year I thought we might bring to you the events of our individual lives by sharing less of the accomplishments of us each, but more by the visceral - what we have seen, or sensed, felt in our hearts, witnessed with awe, and perhaps shared together in the past year.  And so, from many points on the compass, are the experiences of Nancy, Kelly, Heather and Steve during 2015.

“Each year I always feel like there are always many joys to share, sorrows to lament and multiple ways that, if I am paying attention, I might see beautiful ways that God truly inhabits the majestic and the mundane.  This year was no exception.  It was a honor to witness and celebrate the marriages of five couples: always a reminder of my commitment and covenant with Steve, now for 27 years.  My heart was full and proud standing before a crowd of almost 1,400 at the Club 21 Walk-a-thon in October, each person present a believer in the possibilities of the lives of each child with Down syndrome. Another time, holding a new born baby that belongs to a young and homeless mama: praying for provision and protection for this little life.  Then, feeling the cold Fall air and sea mist on my face as I rode the ferry, alone across the Puget Sound to Vashon Island.  Being with our girls is one of my biggest joys, hands down, each time more precious as their careers, school, and grown up responsibilities rightly require their full attention."

“A year of transition.  A whirlwind of change.  I said a final goodbye to my sweet Chicago.  I taste Texas BBQ. I swim in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in the same day.  I feel -30 degree wind chill.  I hear 60,000 Huskies chant "Go Dawgs!".  I feel small at 36,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains.  I see the sunrise over South Central every morning.  As a teacher now, I have six different days every day.  I pay more attention to detail.  I have learned routine can be taken for granted.  I face my privilege head-on.  I embrace my tribe with more intent.  A year of new adventures ahead with much to be grateful for.”

“I remember riding my bike through Dublin, the Irish wind at my back. Gazing across the wonderland of the Swiss Alps, and sharing Tuscan wine with new friends on the streets of Florence; that semester of traveling Europe and doing life on my own, away from anything comfortable and familiar. My first Seattle summer; camping, boat rides, lake days and re-entering my community of deep friendships. Now, my last year of undergrad, preparing for Nursing school and cherishing sweet friends.  Doing all of this with the One who makes me who I am. A year of many firsts and lasts, facing the unknown and learning to trust.”

I remember feeling the Irish wind and sea spray on my face on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, of being surrounded by the beautiful warm folk music of Ireland in a cozy pub on a chilly night, and then trodding the soft earth of the churchyard in East Anglia where my 11th generation ancestor is laid to rest, and of visiting the home in Weymouth where Nancy’s great-great grandfather was raised in the late 1800s.  I recall peels of soft thunder aloft and bright lightning one August twilight in Toronto.  I smile as I recall the laughter of a business dinner in Alexandria, Virginia with a former Jesuit from New England, an Anglican from London, and a Jew from Brazil discussing both the nature of God and the importance of business ethics.  Rich conversations, deep friendships.  Thanksgiving dinner with dear friends in Seattle with frost on the ground outside.  And more recently, the feel of my 87 year old Aunt’s hand in mine as she approaches her final transition of life, a woman still gracious, laughing, and deeply grateful for a rich life well lived.  Reflecting on the remarkable lives of two daughters, one now teaching special education with passion, love and dedication in the inner city, and another focusing on finishing her senior year of college well. 

The bitter and the sweet, the laughter and the tears, all good things, all mysteries in a way, all part of the Kingdom here and now.  From our home to yours, we wish you much love, a very Merry Christmas, and wishes for a bright and peaceful New Year.

As this is the blog version of our old-fashioned paper letter, I thought I might share something visual that we love, and might give us all a peek into the real gift of Christmastide ..... love:

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