Merry Christmas. From a different place. The sky is soft gray and the color repressed by a light fog. The landscape rolls away from me, calm, and unaware that things have shifted. That pasture doesn’t know that it’s techno-world, and it’s filled with troubles and posturing, selfishness and grief. To that pasture it’s the same as when the news took two weeks to arrive on horseback. That sky, stuffed with clouds like a quilt, softens sounds and wraps me up.
In the quiet house I have been preparing, as we are supposed to do, for Advent. I have unwrapped the nativity. I have put hay on the mantle for the baby. The tree has come in from the woods and everywhere small lights are glowing. I anticipate the arrival of all I love– every person who still walks the earth who is my family, and the spiritual celebration and remembrance of adoring a small, clean-souled child.
Last night I went to a huge church the volume of which was filled completely with music– floor to ceiling and wall to wall. The music arched and twined around the retelling, over and over, of the experience of our encounter with that child. There was brass and string and pipe, all there to amplify our human voice and make that song more an ecstatic cry. I felt the terrifying full expression of that cry.
Embedded in this story is the seed of all our stories. When we see a newborn child we are captivated by perfection. If we are parents we experience just such awkwardness and inadequacy as the Holy Family. I suppose I must bring you home to this room with peeling paint . I suppose the television must blare in the background as you sleep on. Don’t mind this bed of hay. So the shift slowly begins–away from perfection and into full humanness.
But perfect or not, quiet or soaring, singing or weeping, at the core of everything is love. So, for a few hours at least, I wish you the fullness of that love, leaving your own heart and traveling on a camel across a desert, bearing the full weight of all your riches, to the destination marked by a star.