Weekly Message from Rev. T. J.

Pretty Paper

It’s here, isn’t it? I knew it was here maybe for the first time yesterday, when I walked into the grocery store and there were wreathes and garlands for sale by the entrance. Like so many experiences of recollection and of knowing, it wasn’t the sight of the garlands—it was the smell. The sharp tang of the pine in the air rushed my memory back to tromping through so many of these seasons. I remembered my boots and how grinding fallen branches underfoot sent chilled pine air unfiltered into my snowy memory forever. Walking in a winter wonderland. The season is here.

I was in this dream of seasons when I was jolted by yelling out, “No pork, no pork, no pork.” The kind person beginning to make my burrito at the counter realized their mistake right away, replaced the pork spoon, and picked up the vegan taco seasoned crumbles spoon instead, so all was well with the world once more. With my warm burrito in hand, I went out to the outdoor seating area to enjoy my meal. I gazed through the doors into the mall courtyard at a tree of poinsettias two stories high. What a sight.

“Vaccine card and ID please.” A little surprised since I was sitting outdoors yards and yards from anybody, I looked at the badge on the young man’s uniform as he leaned over to inspect my credentials. It read “Security Trainee.” He copied down my address from my ID, compared the names on the ID and my vaccination record, and took my phone number, too. When he finished, I began to watch folks go in and out of the mall. One of my favorite songs about this time of year is “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson. The song considers the getting and spending mentality in a world where so many want for so much.

Crash. My thoughts about malls and Willie Nelson vanished when a woman fell against a trash can and then to the ground. People gathered around her to see if she was OK. Some people began to help her to her feet. Security Trainee was grooving to tunes, like he was in a nightclub nowhere to be found. “Excuse me sir, that woman just fell and might need help.” Pulled from his imagined dance, he went to check on her. Her partner arrived soon after and took over her care.

Yes, the season is here. Memory and metaphor come together in a time when families, friends, and a range of enterprises seek our attention, our notice. It is fun to feel some of the memories. It is good to turn our thoughts toward others, but jolts and surprises still happen. The upsetting and the surreal crash our dance parties of nostalgia and sentimentality. The pretty paper wrapping falls away at times. Maybe it is there, when we are awakened from old dreams and memories, that we get to the meaning of this season. Maybe its in the hands of strangers helping us up again. Maybe it’s in a vegan burrito (probably not). Or maybe it’s in a world we seek where so many won’t want for so much for so long.

Seasons greetings, friends.
Rev. T. J.

One Response to “Weekly Message from Rev. T. J.

  1. Thanks for that link, I’d never heard that song before! Which is surprising, considering how much I love Xmas songs. (Had an “surreal crash” myself yesterday, when running to see why someone outside was screaming in terror. Turned out to be a wedgetailed shearwater, lost in my apartment building, which I was able to capture and take to the Humane Society. It bit me pretty good, but after you’ve been bitten by a lovebird, not much fazes you. *LOL*) Thank you for highlighting the holiday season in Hawaii! 🙂

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