It's coming on Christmas They're cutting down trees They're putting up reindeer And singing songs of joy and peace Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on I wish I had a river so long I would teach my feet to fly I wish I had a river I could skate away on... - Joni Mitchell, "River"
I love this song. There are other Christmas songs I love, and I’ve noticed the ones I am drawn to are infused with a sense of longing and acceptance, of joy and sadness in equal parts. It’s my way. From the time I was small, there seemed to be a sense of abundance with the giving and shopping, mixed with a sense of poverty and the acknowledgment that there are those for whom the holiday is a mixed bag of coal and candy canes.
After all, Jesus was born into poverty, and stayed there his whole life, meanwhile bringing abundance and fostering change and acceptance.
How is this time of year mixed with being HIV positive? What’s the gift? What can I give? Christmas is infused (for me) with a longing, a look-back at the year, the culmination of many things done and left undone, said and left unsaid, as they all come piling together against the floodgate that is one more year’s end…and I find myself grateful and regretful, full and empty, joyful and sad, silly and serious…the mixture of emotion blended together, the look toward what I may participate in and make happen in the next twelve months–this is the meaning of it all for me…and it’s what makes me wish I had a river to skate away on. Thank you for this.
Thank you for another year of health. Thank you for another opportunity to reach out to those who are newly diagnosed with HIV, or to help connect those who have fallen out of care for a myriad of reasons with the care and counseling they so need, even though their mind and their virus try to convince them they don’t have a snow ball’s chance in hell…that they cannot teach their feet to fly, will not find that river of frozen glass to skate away on.
It’s there. Trust me. This is the time. Nothing can stop you, or me, from the birthright we are given to thrive in spite of odds and obstacles. That still, strong newborn voice within you is calling your own true name. Listen to it.
It’s coming on Christmas, the end of the year is nigh…do not go forward without acknowledging the road that’s gotten you here. Thank the journey, take pause and rest, reflect, and move forward into this brand new baby year with a sense of gratitude and strength. It is the best gift of all, and it’s yours for the receiving. Even in the darkest depths, whatever you’re going through, keep on going, because within suffering there is also the light of blessing, gratitude and love there, though its light may seem too dim to warm your weary bones. Breathe in and blow out your precious breath onto that spark, give it your oxygen, and it will become a flame in the darkness.
“Count your blessings, one by one, when twilight comes and day is done…”
God Bless Us, Everyone.