“Nine days til’ Christmas!” the radio announcer proclaimed in a voice much like a Who in the 2000 version of The Grinch.
I imagined his tiny teeth and coiffed hair proclaiming the minutes ticking by to the Big Holiday as I turned the corner on to the major highway on my way to work.
We’ve been hustling and bustling with packages and bows. Dodging Suburbans in parking lots and honking at stop lights. Just like the travels on their way to Jerusalem for the Census. Right?
Christmas is coming and I’m not ready.
I’m not ready for the waves. Waves of excitement. Waves of grief. Waves of anxiety that come with the planning for pulling people who love each other together in a room for a purpose we easily forget in a gift giving world.
As I drove and listened to celebrities sing about holy nights, I paused and thought of Mary. She wasn’t ready. She didn’t ask for this baby at all.
I didn’t ask for grief. For missing. For aching. For the need for reinvention and the embracing discomfort to push through to potential. I didn’t ask for the mystery of the “What the heck – this wasn’t quite how it was supposed to be” moments.
Mary didn’t either.
And yet, Jesus came.
Hope in the form of an infant, on a cold dark night and with him came the angels and the promise of healing and restoration and wholeness. Can you imagine witnessing all that potential just laying in scratchy straw?
A woman surrounded by men in awe. Probably telling her what to do – how to swaddle, where to sit, what to consider next.
And in the confusion, I’d like to hope peace came to her that night. In some form or another as she sat and wondered, “How will God use me in this?”
I’m not ready for the mysterious of mix of hurt and hope and sparkle. I’m not ready for the shadows looming, his empty chair, the small talk at holiday parties.
I’m not ready.
And yet here we are. “How will God use me in this?”
So, I start to pray.
I’m praying for the miraculous possibly found at a home-made table surrounded by beautiful, broken, seeking, healing people. I’m praying for peace as we sit among the fallen nettles of a tree-farmed pine tree under twinkling lights.
I’m praying for toasts and witnesses and a squeeze of my hands or shoulders or a kiss on the cheek. I’m praying for the Holy to come and be with us and those who can’t or won’t be in my living room.
Nine days ’til Christmas!
Turning left, I pulled into an icy parking spot at the local King Soopers. I rushed in to buy green pears and soft cheese. Simple offerings for the Holiday lunch at the office. After paying and slipping on wet linoleum, I started to fumble for my keys in my pit of a purse. Looking up, I caught sight of something special.
Both wearing printed pajamas and snow boots, two small children walked hand in hand with their tired- looking mother. They stomped and they hopped and they wrestled for a cart. Children in pajamas at the grocery store. Beautiful.
Whispered prayers and wondering hearts. Beautiful.
Incomplete to-do lists, anxieties, hopes and healing. Beautiful.
I’m not ready for Christmas – I’m guessing Mary wasn’t either.
What a beautiful thing.