In the exact moments that Newtown, Connecticut was being wounded to it's soul, I was confessing to a dear friend that I simply feel sad. That pulling a holiday out of my magic hat seemed impossible. Like bone grinding against bone, I am doing the things I usually do to prepare for Christmas, but I feel such pain in the process. And then I heard the news. I was Christmas shopping and crying in the car between stops. If that weren't enough, the waves keep coming....Cancer, suicide, job loss. I'm scared to check my messages. I think that every single person I know is grieving something right now. And what could be more horrifying than trying to celebrate and grieve at the same time?
I don't want to blog. I don't want to say anything. I want to hide. I want to freeze. I don't want to add to the chaos. I want to try to sort it out. I don't want to jump to any quick conclusions. I want to pause. I want to breathe. I want to check and see if God is still there. I want to lean into the pain and feel all of it. I want to know if I face it all, if there really will be enough of God's peace to keep me from flying apart. I don't want Mike Huckabee to try to sum things up for me. I don't want to debate the extent of the second amendment right now. It's so incredibly NOT the time. I can't be the only one that wishes with all my heart that all the leaders and all the journalists and all the Christians and all the pundits would say, "We're not really sure what to say right now. We want to take some time to think this over and try not make things worse by saying things that are stupid and hurtful."
I've been listening to Christmas songs much more closely this year than I ever have before. I've noticed lines I have never noticed before...even from the silly ones like "Here Comes Santa Claus:
He doesn't careAs one who has never really liked Santa Claus (and I'm talking never liked him...from age 4 sitting on his lap and the whole creepy thing) I felt like this lyric gave me a glimpse of what all the fuss is about. Santa is a fairy tale. But the reason we love fairy tales is because we long for things to work out right. For peace, equity, rightness. I felt, sitting in the car, in the dark with the clear stars twinkling in the dark night, that I had finally figured out why Christmas is such a big deal to nearly all of us. It's because we all feel longing. We all crave the love, the security, the beauty, the joy, the satisfaction, the peace of a fairy tale Christmas. We almost never get it. Some years there is extra money or seeing all the family or a big, fresh snowfall to act as the cartilage between the bones, but then there are years like this one that just ache.
If you're rich or poor
He loves you just the same
That we're God's children
That makes everything right
Fill your hearts
With Christmas cheer
'Cause Santa Claus
Our family is celebrating Christmas by faith this year and not by sight. It is a stripped down holiday, simple by intention and by circumstances. It is painfully clear that no amount of money could buy the things we all really want. And yet, we will give gifts. We give them to show how much we love. We give them because we want to bring some sliver of joy. We decorate because we need beauty and light. We reflect on the words of the angels to the shepherds because they know what we don't know and can't see. It's a blinded holiday this year...one that is uncertain and cautious, but intentional. Our hope in God is not cancelled out by our pain, but our pain isn't cancelled out by our hope either.