One word for the Big Guy | VailDaily.com

One word for the Big Guy

Don Rogers

By God’s grace, only by God’s grace, do we celebrate Christmas as we do. I believe this to be true, although I am not at all churchy.Pastor Tillinghast, one of my ancestors who founded the first Baptist church in America in the early 1600s, in Rhode Island, would be very disappointed, I’m sure. But one of the blessings of this country is that freedom of religion on a personal level is also freedom from religion. Church for me is more telling as a means of tracing lineage – the Catholic Irish, Presbyterian Scots, the families’ new world tilt to Protestantism leading to both my wife and I being baptized as young children into the Methodist faith. I’m endlessly fascinated by how we two of nearly the same “Misty Isle” mutt mix of bloodlines, she raised in the Midwest and me in the far West, found each other and have lived more than half of our lifetimes now as one. I believe in cosmic fate, too. What will be will be, as it can only be.I don’t know whether I’ve become too academic, scholarly, pretentiously intellectual and temporal for making leaps of faith in the religious sense. Or if, as with classical music, my parents force fed me just enough that I’ll never have a taste for Sundays in a pew, dressed up and enduring the side rituals for the meat of the service, the sermons, which even while I was a child did tend to reach me.Apologies to those I may offend for believing the church stories – from all the great and small faiths – to be fantasy, though I do respect the allegories and fables and imbedded messages I think I hear in them. I also respect people of faith for their commitment and beliefs even if I don’t share these in the same rich detail.I just don’t think we humans have the answers. Being humans, we have rich imaginations. Yep, I do think we make ’em up. But we can’t make up the night sky, and I find myself frequently thanking God for such a humbling view as I think about just how small I am, how small we all are together. We can’t make up the passage of time, the laws of physics, the very fact of our existence. I thank and ask God about these all the time. But I don’t pretend to understand any of it, not really. Of course, I don’t understand math or music, either. I just thank God that some of us do, and for the works that spring from their understanding of what is truly miraculous to me.I thank God, too, that I can express blasphemies here that would have me stoned to death in some of Earth’s more primitive reaches and eras. And that I can celebrate the great Christian holiday Christmas fully and thankfully and generously without setting foot in a church or professing to swallow the strain of my baptism whole.I can thank God for my blessings without feeling guilt-ridden about them. I can wonder at these fellow travellers through life, one I chose and two whose life spark ignited through us, under the same roof on this great day.We give each other presents – at my house mainly music, musical instruments, books, booze, more books; you know, the essentials – but the truth is that God granted the great gifts and we’re merely taking a spot of time to celebrate them. The holiday is Christian, lashed to habits from B.C. as well as some more modern inventions. But even the grand embodiment of consumerism, Santa Claus, tugs at the spirit.We’re human, yet so young in the celestial heavens, so of course we stray from the message, get carried away, miss the point. But we do that every day. Today even us “non-believers” cannot help but consider the miracle of our existence and how it all came to be. As humble or great our celebrations, it’s by grace that we have them. I might be making this part up, but I do think there’s a message just for each of us in them. Take it as you will. I’m just saying to God: Thanks.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado