THE ART OF LOSING

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A few years back, I read the classic epic poem the Iliad with my daughter, and I’m not gonna lie. I cried like a baby when Hector died.

I had always thought of Achilles as the Great Greek Hero of the famous Trojan War, but reading it this time, I didn’t like him. I just couldn’t see past his petty jealousy, self-pity, and childish revenge.

But here’s the thing: he won. And history is written by the victors, they say.

And then there’s Hector. He’s the brother of Paris who got drafted into a war he never wanted. He’s the patriot. The loyal son. The devoted husband. The loving father. He’s the Ideal Man.

But he lost!

And for me, it wasn’t just Hector who died. It was the death of the Ideal.

One of the most poignant moments in the story is when Hector crosses over the Greek fortifications with his warriors in what seems to him to be a step closer to victory…. But the reader knows better. We know that Mount Olympus has already ruled that when Hector passes over the barricades, he will be setting in motion a train of events that will lead to his own death and the downfall of Troy.

“Don’t do it!” we plead with Hector in the pages. “Don’t lose!”

Oh! And how life feels like a losing battle sometimes….

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ZOMBIES OR JESUS

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I had a terrible fall semester.

Started out all wrong. First of all, I ended the summer feeling – not rested, which scared me. I home school my kids, and I think we should at least START the year with a bang….

And before the first day of school, one of my daughters got pneumonia and another daughter broke her arm. (“She may get full motion back with lots of physical therapy,” the doctor tells me. Oh great! I’ve got plenty of time and energy for that!)

And then a couple months later, my adult daughter with disabilities had her first grand mal seizure in a public place. Ambulances. Emergency rooms. Cat scans.

Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, as I stood in line on my favorite shopping day of the year, I felt a wave sweep over me. Uh, oh. I hope I’m not coming down with something…. But I was. I had some sort of virus that lasted until after Christmas.

I look back on that holiday season as my most secular Christmas ever. I felt so depleted and I had so much to do, that I never even set up our Advent wreath. I didn’t do any of my traditional Advent readings, and I never sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

I thought, I’m not gonna make it. So many sighs. So many questions.

But then – I saw what I needed. Funny how that happens….

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