My Christmas tradition begins with the experience of grief. Year after year it makes its way into my heart like morning fog on the river. There are no deaths or traumas associated with the Christmas season, rather it’s a time when I long for the world to be mended. Every day, every month, every year I hear the groaning creation, and about the time red and green lights twinkle in the neighbor’s yard, I find myself simply unable to rock around the Christmas tree. The fog settles, and I grieve.
The creaking of trees as they sway under torrents of rain and wind;
The layers of black snow unable to fully melt into the earth;
Radiant skies hidden by masses of cloud and storm;
I feel these groanings in that place of longing in my soul.
The toddler in the doctor’s office fiery with fever and gasping every cough;
Consumers hell-bent for the next update in hopes that this time contentment will last beyond the first Game-Over;
Lonely wanderers unable to find community;
I feel these aches for they are mine as well.
And I grieve.
Will we ever be seen?
Will we ever be known?
Will the long-Awaited One return?
And then that moment comes when Christmas arrives for me. This is part of the tradition. There I sit or stand and, for a brief second, Christ enters the groaning present, touches my shoulder, wraps His arms around me, and writes His words of hope on the empty paper of my life.
One year He wrote in the tears of a disabled child.
Another season it was in the tapping of a red cardinal on the kitchen window.
A call comes from my sister who’s just in the mood to talk;
The homeless man makes eye contact, and we connect beyond the circumstances;
The kids, now grown, jump into my bed and giggle in playful mischief;
Words come together in ways that overpower my imagination.
His words and ways are endless but He always comes, pen in hand…
I see you, He writes.
I know you, He signs.
And my longing is met with peace on earth, good will to men.