Here it is, friends, the culmination of all the hurrying, worrying, hustling and bustling. The end of shopping and cooking and practicing, of knitting and building and wrapping. Time to reveal all the secrets, tear off every bow, fling wide the cupboard doors where presents have been hiding. Time to eat, drink, laugh, and be merry. This is Christmas.
I always breath a sigh of relief on Christmas morning - it's finally here, and soon it will be done, and life will return to normal (whatever that is, in this crazy mixed up world we're living in). This morning I woke early enough to watch the sunrise - yes Virginia, there really is a sun, though we haven't seen it here in the midwest for many, many days. Drinking my coffee, I revel in the stillness that has settled palpably over the earth, nary a car barreling down the snow covered road. Brief thoughts of all the things left undone flash through my mind, but I dispel them, choosing instead to contemplate the delighted expression on my mother's face when she came home yesterday and found the new 37" flat screened tv we bought her, all set up and playing General Hospital.
Last night I sat in the darkened church, holding my candle and singing Silent Night with about 200 of my friends. The choir candles are always first lit, and we stand along the sides of the church and start the process of lighting candles within each pew. Gradually, the sanctuary fills with light, each face perfectly aglow within the warm firelight. It's my favorite part of the service, and last night felt especially meaningful after listening to our minister's Christmas Eve meditation, which focused on the power of light in our lives.
"I know many of your lives are filled with darkness," he said. "Perhaps you've lost a job, or your health is failing. You're mourning a loved one, or a cherished relationship is ending. The birth of Christ is the light shining in the darkness of our world and our lives," he continued. "If you can remember that light is always there for you, always illuminating your way, then you'll be able to keep hope alive."
The days leading up to Christmas are shrouded in darkness for me...I'm not sure exactly why, and I've given up trying to figure it out. But somehow when Christmas morning rolls around, I feel at peace with all those anxiety ridden thoughts and feelings which have plagued me throughout the month of December. It's as if a beam of light shines in and for a moment all doubts and fears are eradicated. Christmas gives me a day to just be...to stop worrying and expecting and dithering. I relinquish it all in one deep, cleansing breath.
The real gift would be in maintaining that feeling for the remaining 364 days of the year, in being able to remember that "the light is always there, always illuminating the way." In being able to hope.
"And so this is Christmas" ~ (that Beatles classic keeps replaying in my head)~ "and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun."
My wish for you (and for me!) is for days filled with light, illuminated by bright, shining hope for the future, for a new year that's "a good one, without any fears."
That is Christmas.