It’s hard to get my head around writing an article for December…the month of Christmas. I put my headphones in and hesitantly force my finger over my favorite Christmas album. The music easily plays but my heart is not in it. The season my childhood heart welcomed as early as it was offered feels a million miles away. December, the month of great anticipation for nearly every person and child, holds no place in my emotional center yet. I look through magazines with delicious looking recipes for the newest Christmas cookie delight, that it would be best I never had. The catalogs clog my mail box and I glance through them, seeing cool new stuff. But like the many these days, less stuff feels lighter and better. The burden of clutter and more stuff is just that, a burden. Then there is time with family. For some that is a joy to look forward to too, for others the scars are already visible from previous encounters and the risks of gathering creates conflict within. My heart’s Christmas memory includes my mother, but she won’t be there in an earthly presence. The “kids” are too old to be in a Christmas play or concert. The work Christmas party got moved to January. I thought of buying myself a new sweater, but with the new tax bill looming I dare not. Visions of blue, sad Christmas days dance in my head instead of sugar plums. I know this Christmas season I will need to mindfully (or with mindfulness) choose what my experience will be. Those who experience depression and anxiety may not yet be at a place where they can chose that. Those who are grieving a death this year, may need to walk the road of a blue Christmas if that is where their grief is at this time. But I suffer from neither of those afflictions currently, so I can mindfully choose how I experience this holiday.
I take a minute to consider what there is to celebrate. Embarrassed, I realize in my “bubble” I have overlooked the very essence of Christmas by not finding ways to daily celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, my much needed Savior. I tell myself, it’s not too late to find a way, big or small, to be intentional about celebrating and anticipating. It might be in the form of a devotion, prayers that recognize with anticipation and gratitude the coming of our Savior, to be human and know our struggles intimately. My brain says, “Oh, great. Another thing to come up with and do!”. Then I realize God gave me all I need to do this simply each day, like finding something to thank God for, a blade of grass (ok, so maybe that’s only seen on TV and in pictures for us in MN now)….for the furnace and warm places to be on winter days, for communities that care, for the food in the fridge, for memories, for those who help us or allow us to help them, for written words to read, for ears to hear and eyes to see, for hands that hold things, for feet that walk, for children and all the miracles they display, and the list goes on. Now take that one everyday thing, and take a minute to think about all it took to have it. The intricacy of the workings of an eye or an ear, the invention of the furnace, the miracle and toil that goes into the growing of our food, the incredible gift of life, etc. Just pick one seemingly tiny thing each day, spend a minute considering it’s intricacies and say a word of gratitude to the maker of all things and the Savior of all our sinfulness. As a bonus spend just 30 seconds in wonder of His holy might, recognizing His hand in all that is good and His presence in your everyday places, your holy ground. See Him in all the places you are, born anew. Maybe He gets there by being in your heart?
Suddenly the Christmas music in my ear takes on a different tone, I begin to dream of time with my kids and spouse, where together we can marvel over each seemingly simple tiny thing that God has made and we use freely everyday. We can confess our fears and mistakes, knowing forgiveness awaits. Suddenly hope seems a possibility re-born and the angels I love and miss are around me. The wrapped gifts are still somewhat meaningless, but other types of gifts take the lead as I take one minute to see them, consider their workings and give thanks for this holy ground God is walking on with me.
I recognize not all situations allow for a transformation with ease or quickness, and that over all many things get in the way. Nevertheless I wish for each of you this Christmas the gift of hope. It might be only a glimmer, it might resemble a star like the one followed long ago. Likely, it will lead you back to the Light of the world that is born for you each Christmas time. I hope this light is a gift you open your heart to, let in and take time to wonder and marvel about while hope saturates your being and moves you into a happy new year.
Wishing you Peace, Hope, Love, and the gift of Light brought by your Savior on a dark winter night!
Faith Community Nurse ☺