Tradition vs. the Trailblazer

This morning I got into a texting conversation with my family.  It was over Christmas brunch, specifically the potato pancakes, or kartoffelpuffer.  When I was little, my mom started the tradition of Eggs Benedict with kartoffelpuffer for Christmas brunch.  Christmas Day brought the same ritual – we’d wake early and scurry to the living room to open gifts.  Then my mom would start brunch while we played and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would arrive.  As we got older, we were recruited to help my parents in the kitchen and learn the recipes. 

Most of our childhood, my mom made potato pancakes one way – with dehydrated potatoes.  It was convenient and a quick way to make the large quantities of pancakes we needed to feed our crowd.  But she always wanted to improve the recipe to make it more authentic.  So, she experimented with fresh potatoes.  Which triggered a good-natured revolt.  To this day, my siblings insist on making them the way she did when we were kids – with dehydrated potatoes.  It had become tradition.

As humans, we are drawn to and need ritual and tradition.  But sometimes we are also called to be trailblazers.  Another friend of mine is spending his first Christmas with his religious community, having recently entered his postulancy.  Away from family, friends, and his familiar traditions, he is learning and embracing new ones in his new community.  It’s a bittersweet adjustment, and a reminder that in this life, we are all still journeying to our forever home.

For me, this Advent has gone by incredibly fast.  Too fast.  Things on my to-do list remain (like writing Christmas cards – so thankful as a Catholic, Christmas is just beginning tomorrow!).  But today, I just want to stop and breathe.  Sit in silence and consider, God entered this world as a tiny infant: small, helpless and poor.  Love itself, bigger than the universe, small enough to swaddle and hold in your arms.  Have you ever held an infant, let him clasp your finger with his tiny hand, and gazed into his eyes looking up at you?  Have you ever found yourself lost in the simple awe of that moment, his eyes and expression full of wonder and trust gazing back?  Look into His eyes and be not afraid. 

In our tiny Infant King, tradition meets the trailblazer.  Born in a stable, in poverty, he suffered with us, he laughed with us.  He, God of the universe, allowed Himself to be laid in a wooden manger.  That’s how much He loves you and me.  He invites us to come close, to make room for Him in our hearts and lives.  Christmas anchors us to an event that occurred over 2,000 years ago and at the same time challenges us to look forward to when He will return.  In Him, we discover who we were created to be, and we realize we are not truly free until we fully embrace Him.  Or, rather, until we allow Him to fully embrace us. 

Thank you for being a part of my vocation journey, for your prayers and support.  May God bless and protect you and your loved ones this Christmas season and grant you His peace and joy throughout the coming year.

Glory to God in the Highest! 

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone…  For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.  They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:1, 5.


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