Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reflections on Christmas

Right now, my house is quiet except for the ticking of a clock, the occasional nail taps of Dixie moving about on the hardwood floor, and the sound of my typing.  I have a pile of bills beside me, a lukewarm cup of decaf coffee in front of me, and a to-do list formulating in my brain.  I'm on vacation, though, and I refuse to spend the entire week running about doing errands that keep me from doing some of what I love doing...writing...thinking...sitting...dreaming.

Life normally shuts most of that out...so today, I'm doing nothing else until I sit here and ponder life just a little bit.  Except possibly get a refill on this coffee that is truly ridiculously colder than lukewarm if truth be told.

It is a few days before Christmas.  Last night was a lunar eclipse, it is the first day of winter, and a vocal group from Alabama won the "Sing Off" on television last night.  Friends of mine are making plans to go to Arizona for the National Championship Game next month, and others are racing around trying to finish up Christmas shopping.  Some have plans to travel this Christmas, and others are content to cook and bake themselves into oblivion and welcome family and friends from afar into their homes.  Some have new lives growing inside of them, and others are enjoying their first Christmas with their new babies.  A few have deep fears about the future, and others are grateful for the news that the health concerns that have plagued them are improving with each passing day.

In other words...life is going on.

I know that most of the time we try to genuinely take time to reflect on the blessings in our life.  Sometimes we fail at that because some big, hairy, awful something is looming over our lives.  Wolves are at the door, or the unknown looks like some frightening nightmare that threatens to overtake us.  We want resolution, comfort, or for the big something horrible to be reversed, eliminated, or blown to bits.  We know that we are in a pit...or in a valley...and we begin to actually fear that we will never see the light again.  It takes all of our strength...and the rest from God...just to put one foot in front of the other, plaster a smile on our face, and carry on the business of life.  For those of you who are walking this rocky road this Christmas...I wish for you an extra measure of joy, love, and peace this holiday season.    Before long, there will be a bend in the road, and you will see that all is well.  Just keep walking.

Other times we look ahead and ponder the big decisions that we assume are still to be written in our stories. For young people it is...who we will marry, where we will live, what we will do, or what our purpose for drawing breath really is.  Frankly, those questions aren't only limited to the young.  Some people seem to instinctively know the answers to these questions, and others have to discover them after bitter disappointments, years in the wilderness, or trial and error.  But the beauty of the journey is that all of us get some of it right...which enables us to forgive ourselves for those times that we don't...and gives us hope that all will eventually end well.  So, if you are wondering if you have a purpose here...know that if you are breathing...the answer is "yes."  Be open to possibilities, and just sit back and prepare for a miracle. 

During Christmas, we honestly have the opportunity of making magic for others in a somewhat effortless way.  We can toss coins into a kettle, pick an angel off of a tree, or speak words of healing into the life of someone who needs to hear them.  We may send a card to someone who is lonely, choose a gift that reflects our love, or transport ourselves back to a simpler time and place through the aromas of  Christmas baking and the sounds of Christmas carols playing on the radio.  We have a little extra time to reflect on our temporal blessings...and our long term ones. 

We can also start over if we have overindulged along with everyone else who will be packing the gyms in January.  We can believe that all will be well, that peace is possible, and that love will conquer all.  The New Year is right in front of us with all of its possibilities. 

So, find a quiet time somewhere in the hustle and bustle of all that we know represents the holidays.  Maybe it is sitting on your porch swing with a cup of hot chocolate and a thick blanket.  Perhaps it is reading a book to a child or praying for the person who is to receive the gifts you are wrapping.  Maybe it is ordering a goat through World Vision and imagining it arriving in some village in Africa or Indonesia to a family who will be blessed because of it.  Or it may be that you get to embrace the people that you love that are all sleeping under your roof tonight.

Enjoy your holiday.  Take in all of the sights, smells and sounds of the season.  Celebrate the birthday of our Lord, and the oasis in the desert of "musts" that normally dominate our lives.  Quiet your heart and let your spirit soar.  Even if this year is one that you will remember as bittersweet somewhere down the road of life...try to remember that it sometimes takes the bittersweet to make us appreciate the carefree days and blessings that we often take for granted.

Merry Christmas.

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