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While Waiting: Pay Attention, Give Praise

December 31, 2022

Another Way for week of Dec. 23, 2022

While Waiting: Pay Attention, Give Praise

The countdown to Christmas is now over: precious days that are too busy. But as we get older many of us need to celebrate Christmas after the 25th (families with small children want to be able to experience the “Christmas morning magic” in their own homes). Grandpas and Grandmas who live farther away must wait for the magic that bursts out of the minivans when the children and grands arrive a couple days later. Each moment is precious and we pause to pay attention to the little ones and can now enjoy generous hugs again.

One of my favorite authors/bloggers/speakers is Heather Lende, who writes from Haines, Alaska, a small town we were fortunate to visit in 2019. Her husband runs the ACE Hardware there and my husband had to visit it, just because he loves hardware. We browsed the store and bought one thing: a pack of ear plugs to help us cancel out noise on the long plane rides home.

On a recent blog post, Heather shared a quote from another (even more famous) writer, John Updike, that I love: Ancient religion and modern science agree: we are here to give praise. Or to slightly tip the expression, to pay attention.

In Heather’s blog post with this quote, her grandchildren are looking out to the water at her home and watching a whale’s fin appear. How cool is that to look out your living room window and see whales.

How can we do a better job of truly paying attention to the wonder that is around us? I often marvel at the morning sky. We live far enough out in the country that on a clear night, the stars and the constellations look like they’re, just say, a mile or two away instead of 244 light years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, and according to Google, “Light zips through space at 186,000 miles per second and 5.88 trillion miles per year.” Whew. We can’t even realistically wrap our heads around that, right?

One of the young fathers took his children out to see the stars every night while they were here. 🙂

Back to our small acreage: early morning I can frequently see a jet flying overhead with some of its landing lights already on, heading to Dulles Airport near Washington D.C. I say hi and wave (silly old lady that I am) and send a prayer that they land safely. It may be a small thing, but it makes me feel connected with the larger universe and God: paying attention.

So … the night Jesus was born and the astrologers who studied the stars back then noticed something and started on a trek (silly old guys that they were) which probably took months to complete. The story in the Bible goes on to say that when they finally reached Joseph and Mary and the baby, they bowed down and praised this heaven-sent being, the baby Jesus, likely five or six months old by then.

A grandson pays rapt attention as his grandfather fixes the train that is always under our tree.

Whew. The gifts God has given are eternal and free and full of surprises.

How do you pay attention to God’s marvelous gift and plan? How do we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child while experiencing so much violence and hatred and persecution in the world? Another writer, Melissa Florer-Bixler in a book How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace, reminds us that the suffering and loss we see in the world will one day come to an end, and God “will wipe away all tears from our eyes.”

We await a still more wonderful outcome as we faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus who reminds us, in the words of still another writer and composer, George Frideric Handel in The Messiah, “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”

Wrap your head around that! Hoping you had a meaningful Christmas, whatever your circumstances.


Highlights of your Christmas?

I know today is New Year’s Eve; if you haven’t taken time to enjoy the Hallelujah chorus yet this Christmas, here’s a link!

Share here or send to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Happy New Year, Melodie and family!

    I don’t think you are a silly old lady because I’m one too. As I gaze to the skies or drive on the freeway, I often pray for safety for others–or for the downtrodden I spy along the way.

    You caught a fantastic image of one little boy absorbing a lesson on how to be a man from his grand-dad.

    • Thank you, Marian for your kind words and acknowledging a certain amount of “silly old” in a number of us. This photo popped out at me when I was scrolling through my photo files and I’m glad it is communicating with others as well! A few years back now but a favorite photo for me, too. Blessings for you and your family in the year ahead!

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