Sitting here listening to the winds draw in 20 degree weather, I am grateful for this new space we've been graced with. I've decided to leave our Christmas stockings up, and haven't finished unpacking, but am nearly full speed into a new school year, and into the daily rumble that is our life. I always feel a little tinge when the Christmas season ends, and the songs remind me why: a mixture of this heady, comforting, joyful celebration, this warmth from within which protects us from the cold which blows on and on outside.
So many of us long for the true peace that is "silent night," and those of us paying attention to the solemnity of the season catch in the lyrics of long-hallowed carols the purpose of the child born. "We Three Kings of Orient Are" captures this in a haunting way. The warmth of the manger, its bare protection for this little family who is in for so much more as this child grows, draws us into the song; what we get as the carol winds down is a reminder of the gifts' symbolism. There's the bitter perfume of the myrrh, which "breathes of life of gathering gloom"--listening to the choir sing this carol Sunday and joining them in harmony I felt stirred to celebrate life, and at the same time became ultra-aware of the way death has and will touch my life. I thought of those who suffer during the holidays and seek this comfort and joy; in the church I saw a couple of people with tears in their eyes for perhaps a recent loss, and I remembered being there myself.
This season we most obviously celebrate Christ's birth and ultimate death, but we must see and understand ourselves as well in this act of faith: to believe, regardless of how hard things get, in the destiny we each get to work with as children of God. Comfort and joy WILL come--in the most unexpected ways. There's a beauty in that.
For now, I munch on my last piece of holiday chocolate, and wish you glad tidings of great joy, peace, and all good.