The Year in Review

New Year's Eve came and went
and brought January in tow
It was a cold month as usual
but I had fun in the snow

February brought Valentine's Day
but Cupid didn't shoot me
Instead I had a Girls' Night
and enjoyed the company

March was really great
I went to Washington D.C.
I got to see my friend Jane
and take a bus to NYC

April soon bounced my way
and the year picked up its pace
I spent Easter with the Ernsts
and prepared to run The Human Race

In May things warmed up
and unearthed beautiful tulips
I ran my very first 10k
and dreamed of tropical trips

June brought a business trip
and some good summer fun
I played some stake volleyball
and went on several runs

I took a roadtrip in July
Stella and I split the driving
We saw Mt. Rushmore in SD
and Yellowstone in Wyoming

In August I met a miracle:
My niece ("Lil Miss Jay")
I visited her in California
and couldn't tear myself away

September, can I remember
what I did in September?
I scored two goals in soccer!
Yeah, that's all I remember

October was crazy, like super insane
I turned 28, ran 13.1,
became a zombie, and ate a brain
Boy was I glad when it was all done!

November means turkeys
and turkeys mean stuffing
I ate everything in sight
and joined Gold's to prevent puffing

On a more serious note
I was blessed to see
Two friends get married
and my dad post-surgery

December was so much fun
and brought the year to a close
Have a very Merry Christmas
and let me know how 2012 goes!



Tonight I descended a hill and was surprised to see a veritable barricade of fire trucks and police cars come into view. They had taken over more than half of the road and I had to carefully navigate around two firemen who were conversing in the middle of the road. As I passed them I glanced toward the side of the road they were protecting and I saw a crumpled bicycle. It was white and the once perfectly formed rims looked they had been in the hands of a giant. The handlebar tape was still tightly wound and the paint on the bike frame betrayed no sign of distress. The surface of the bike was smooth and shiny enough to draw the eye. The form of the bike was destroyed. I thought to myself, “Tonight someone’s life has changed forever.” I could not tell if the driver was present or where the cyclist had been taken. The possibility that a moment of inattention or carelessness could cost someone their life or damage their body permanently jarred my steady mind and sent it searching for empathy for someone I had never seen and probably will never meet.

A few hours later I was at the theater to see my friend Scarlett perform in a musical version “A Christmas Carol.” The only version of the story I’ve ever seen is “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992) which I watched once as a nine-year-old in the movie theater, once or twice on video and then once two weeks ago. If it hadn’t been for the recent review I probably would have been a bit lost as the wrath of Ebenezer Scrooge coursed its way through well-wishers and do-gooders. Each person he scorned was momentarily surprised by his behavior but they continued about their business and settled in for another warm albeit chilly Christmas Eve. Scrooge closed up shop and made his way home after deriding his employee, Bob Cratchit, for requesting Christmas Day off.

As soon as Scrooge’s front door came into view his night of visions and wonders began. He thought he saw his deceased business partner’s face in the familiar brass knocker. He wrote it off. A short time later, after changing into his nightclothes, he spotted that same familiar face in a dark corner of this room. The vision was accompanied by what must surely be an auditory hallucination – the scratchy voice of Jacob Marley and a terrible rattling chain dragging along Scrooge’s cold floor. As Marley’s body came into view his death-white face and choking chain caused Scrooge to laugh in disbelief and attribute the strange vision to indigestion. Marley would not be ignored. Scrooge glanced at Marley’s strange metal accessories and asked, “What chain is this you wear?” Marley only let a half of a moment pass by – enough time to press one of the links between his fingers – and answered, “It is the chain I forged in life.”

I have to admit my jaw dropped a little. I tried to listen to the rest of the dialogue but I was carried away by this idea – a simple idea – of how our actions can shape (or in this case forge) our fate. I hadn’t understood why the Marley ghost (or in the Muppets’ case ghosts) wore chains. Now after looking up the Muppets version on YouTube I see the explanation was there all along, “Captive, bound/We’re double-ironed/Exhausted by the weight/As freedom comes with giving love/So, prison comes with hate.” I wondered if, say, this was literally how things worked, “How many links would I have formed at this point in my life?”

My thoughts traveled along as Scrooge’s journey began. He was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past who reminded him of the joy he once felt at Christmas. Sadly Scrooge didn’t stay a joyful boy forever. He, like us, had to grow up. Memories often serve up helpings of feelings we wish we could forget. Scrooge saw himself fall in love as a young man and then abandon his beloved as he sought out worldly success (aka money). Long forgotten joy could only momentarily lift Scrooge before the memory of lost love cast a shadow dark enough to hide even the brilliantly white Ghost of Christmas Past. No worry, the Ghost of Christmas Present soon bounded toward him, ready to celebrate with revelers and show Scrooge how happy his nephew was (making fun of Scrooge, that is) and how content the Cratchit family was in their simple home. Tiny Tim lit up on the room as his father carried him into the house on his shoulder. Scrooge immediately felt something for the boy – first affection, then concern. In a time when life was as fragile as a fine glass ornament Scrooge knew the life of this small boy with twisted legs and weak lungs could be snuffed out like a candle if the wind blew a fever his way. He asked the Ghost of Christmas Present if Tiny Tim would live. The ghost read the shadows in the room – shadows cast by present actions which lead to future consequences – and told Scrooge that if things continued as they were currently set in motion, the boy would not live.

Pleading for the life of the boy, darkness fell over Scrooge. The merry ghost left him and I cowered in my seat in the theater because I know who was up next: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. As light retuned to the stage I could make out the profile of a reaper. I think the scariest thing about these hooded figures is our habit to search for eyes in the place where a face should be. In the split second my eyes involuntarily search for another’s and realize they’ve found nothing they also manage to form eyes in the place where there are none. Usually the resulting illusion is small, red, glowing eyes faint as cooling briquettes. I’ve long since known my mind can construct nightmares from empty spaces. Scrooge cowered at the ghost’s feet and confessed he feared nothing more than that which is to come. The ghost showed him villagers who had robbed someone recently deceased (that someone being Scrooge) and transported him to the home of the Cratchit family. Bob’s wife was awaiting her husband’s arrival from the cemetery and the children were dressed in black. There was one child missing. Bob was late returning and one son remarked his father walked a bit slower nowadays. The mother’s eyes widened in pleasant memory as she recalled a time when her husband walked quickly and joyfully. It was when he carried Tiny Tim on his shoulder.

How can it be that carrying another person actually lifts us up? How does it give us the strength and motivation to quicken and even lengthen our stride? And, when they’re gone, how can we find peace knowing we’ve laid them in a safe place covered in green grass near a protective wall?

The ghost carried Scrooge to a lonely graveyard in which only headstones kept one another company. There, before Scrooge’s bowed body, stood a lowly grave marker bearing a very familiar name. “Ebenezer Scrooge.”

Sobbing for a chance to make things right Scrooge grasped the headstone, burdened by all he had done, all he had seen, and all it could mean for his future and the future of those he inexplicably loved. Darkness once again surrounded him and in the black night he closed his eyes and vowed he had changed. When he opened his eyes he was clutching the blanket of his own bed. When he realized his good fortune he declared, “I don’t know what to do. I’m light as a feather!” He played the rest of the day by ear – generously tipping an errand boy and a poulterer, sending a generous feast to the Cratchit family, donating to charity and joining his nephew for dinner all the while plotting to give Bob Cratchit a raise the very next day. As he partook in the joy surrounding him he shook his head. “I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve to be this happy. But I can’t help it.”

Tonight someone’s life was changed forever. I may never find out the fate of the cyclist or what caused the motorist to mangle the white bike but I have a feeling someone will be carrying a burden because of it. It may be mental, physical or emotional. It will almost definitely be financial. I just hope the rescuers involved were quick enough to prevent a life being lost. If not I hope they don’t partake in the burden, shame and misery caused by what was most likely an innocent mistake.

This evening’s events reminded me of the fragility of life. Mortality is a fickle creature, accompanying each of us in a different manner for various amounts of time. Scrooge had everything to fear and everything to lose but he relearned how to love by observing a peaceful family and the loving relationship between a father and his smallest boy. He took charge of his life and rerouted his heart in search of good things to do. Like the character Jean Valjean in Les Misérables he dedicated the remainder of his life to fairness, charity and a higher power. In the end of the musical Les Misérables an angel appears and beckons, “Come with me, where chains will never bind you/All your grief at last, at last behind you/Lord in Heaven, look down on him in mercy.” Prepared to move on Valjean adds, “Forgive me all my trespasses and take me to your glory.” Another angel joins the first, “Take my hand, I’ll lead you to salvation/Take my love, for love is everlasting.” As Valjean departs they sing together, “And remember, the truth that once was spoken/To love another person is to see the face of God.”

What carries you? Perhaps it’s a homemade crutch hidden in the corner. Maybe it’s a crumpled bicycle. Or could it be the strong shoulder of your father? Sometimes the sheer need to carry on can be enough. I hope for you, especially during this season, it is love. I hope you find the strength to be everything you are you meant to be and that your burdens are lightened at every turn. More than anything I hope, when the time is right, love will carry you home.


Update: The bicyclist who was hit on Wednesday 12/14 was Bridgett Noland. Please keep her in your prayers. For more information visit this blog:



Night of night and day of days
Hours pass and darkness stays
Moon shines strong and all along
Stars keep singing the same song

One small candle dispels the gloom
Doesn't disguise impending doom
Where once was freedom now is night
What once was life now seems trite

Winds whip sharp and waves roll deep
A fury with no secrets to keep
All is revealed and all is expired
All will tremble at what has transpired

Earth burns anew as the skies unfold
The dead bring forth all stories untold
Secrets of now and secrets of then
Tear me in pieces again and again

On this eve so brisk and so bleak
So full of voices I dare not speak
I write and hide in my lowly lair
All the while knowing you're out there

Your voice of reason, hope, belief
Sends me in spirals of deepest grief
You wander the land of long-lost dreams
As my world rips apart at the seams

Keep your pity, spare me your glance
At least I can say I took a chance
In this world dark and so dire
I was the one caught in the mire

Let the wind sweep me up
Let the waves wash me away
If this is what it takes
To see the light of day