I don't really know where to start; only that I need to speak my mind or I will not ever rest. This was a hard Christmas because I felt like I was strong-arming God, holding him at arm's length to keep him from getting too close...because if he came closer, I might just break.
I don't know if it's the reality or the gravity of our situation that is coming home to roost, but I feel HEAVY. Burdened. Like a person fumbling in darkness.
And the promise that "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light" just doesn't seem real. By real, I mean present. And, when people with bright, shiny lives post "the weary world rejoices," I am cynical. What do they know of weariness? But, further...I want to know...where is the rejoicing?
I am weary. I am weary and I have only had this burden six months - or a year - or 4 - or however far back you want to go. And where is the rejoicing?
Where is Jesus?
When you receive more bad news - on Christmas, no less...then the shiny posts about a Savior coming to the brightly lit, shiny packaged world seems even more revolting. Who is need of a Savior when we are so secure we can worship his coming without a thought of those with less? When we gather and store and pity those who can't, but do nothing to share? We are so full that we miss him, even when he is here; even when he is being celebrated. We want the idea and not the reality.
Oh, this is me. Am I not the world's chief idea-list? I love ideas for the possibility, the fun in dreaming the new world. I have wanted the washed-up, polished, sterile, SAFE Christmas. The happy family memories, the dreams of many more like this...and I am weary because my fear and worry that I truly cannot know, it just pulls me down into a bog. It's tentacles wrap around me to pull me deeper while I thrash and struggle, and I am gasping - desperate for joy while sadness pulls down harder.
And I want Jesus. I want Jesus to take it all away. I want it to be only joy, only hope, only belief - a firm foundation that it. will. get. better! I want Jesus to sit with me and wipe away my tears and tell me the truth that will set me free. I want him to wipe away the gloom that keeps creeping in to steal what little peace I have.
But, I haven't wanted Jesus - not enough to let him enter my fear. Not enough to let it go. Not enough to hand my love, my life, my joy, my fear to him and let him truly come in and transform me. I have wanted to hold on to some semblance of me - for...safety? security? that I ended up barring the door and pulling up the bridges.
I sat in the pews Christmas Eve singing about Jesus' birth, enjoying my family, and reflecting on Christmases past. I choked up thinking about the people who used to be here, sharing their gifts with us, and the shadows that are left in our hearts.
At the second service, I sat in the pew, asking Jesus to come to me. A woman sang, 'O Holy Night,' and it was the most beautiful offering. At first, I teared up at the sheer beauty - but I didn't want to cry at Christmas Eve. It's Christmas! It's supposed to be JOY-FULL! [I think of Lucy: "Oh, Charlie Brown. Don't you know what Christmas is about? It's Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho and presents to pretty girls..."] Then came this part:
The King of kings lay in a holy manger,
in all our trials born to be our friend [cue the heart softening];
He knows our needs, our weakness is no stranger [cue heart breaking]:
Behold your king, before him lowly bend,My king ... born to be my friend in all my trials ... He knows my needs; my weakness - my fear, my worries - they are no stranger to him. Gaze upon your king...and recognize....
Behold your king!
Jesus, who thought equality with God was not something to be grasped, made himself like one of us. Being found in human flesh, he humbled himself and submitted himself to death - even, death on the cross.
Attending my third church service in less than 24 hours yesterday morning, I found myself grateful for the Mass. The mingling of the birth with the death. It wasn't simply for Christmas that Jesus came. And, the "new and glorious morn" that dawned with his birth seemed extinguished by his death 33 years later. Christmas was the beginning of a new chapter, but Easter was the true glory. EASTER was the triumph that Christmas heralded...and it took thirty-three years (and a lot of suffering) to burst forth.
Sometimes, we have to wait for the dawn to burst forth to glorious day. Sometimes, it seems like all is lost; that hope has been vanity. Sometimes, it seems like the kingdom is bursting forth at the seems, that the all is here right now - that all things have aligned, and all is right with all things everywhere.
I think, Jesus would say that is not "it." That is not it.
I am it.
I am the Light of the World.
I am the Bread of Life.
I am the Wine of the New Covenant.
I am the Way. I am the Truth. I am the Life.
I am the Peace. I am the Healing Balm.