Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections on What Must have Been

Imagine having to pack up for a business trip as demanded by your government a week before your wife is due.  The only mode of transportation is either one's feet or a mule.  The travel is over harsh terrain, bitter cold in the night, searing heat in the day, it is dusty, it is long, it is fatiguing and the reason is beyond one's control.  Arriving, there is no place to stay, no kind faces, no room at any of the inns.  Necessity creates a place for the birth. 

What made that first Christmas perfect was not the preparations or the setting, but the internal preparations and personal responses of those entrusted with first greeting Christ. Joseph taking them, searching, not allowing the slammed doors to prevent him from seeking for a place. One must wonder if he simply finally asked God, to give them a place, and that prayer allowed the last inn keeper to crack open his heart enough to bring them to the stable.

Having a child in a stable, surrounded by straw, by beasts, even if pain free, was not easy.  Mary had to trust completely that even this was part of God's plan.  She was obedient, she was sin free, but this was the result of her free will submission to enduring the harsh of this fallen world without allowing that harshness to savage her spirit or dominate her mind.  It must have been remarkable, to know someone so willingly generous of spirit and kind of heart. 

The three kings had been anticipating the birth of the King for months.  Like those who shop all year round for the perfect gifts and thus have the very things to give all they've loved, the three magi were planners, rewarded with finding the Christ Child because they still in the end, trusted enough to leave behind their kingdoms and follow the star.  

My family is probably (alright, definitely), more shepherd like.  Christmas came upon them as a surprise and no matter how long Advent is, the last week comes to me and mine as a shock.  They weren't ready in the classic sense, they hadn't prepared or even dared to hope for such a sight that evening, they were just going about the business, the hard business of living day to day.  But when Christmas beckoned, they too abandoned even their sheep, even the little they had and came as is, with open hearts to the stable.   They got to sing with the angels, they got to see the Christ child and the holy family and the kings.  Like the last workers to show up at the vineyard, they got paid in full, the same as the Kings.   No matter how disorganized we are leading up to Christmas, we still get to mass, we still get there in the end and it still somehow makes all that was, all that is, and all that will be, better, whole, holy.

Leading up to December 25th, it is easy to sometimes forget this as we paint pastoral versions of this first day, that first night, the whole Incarnation is a real flesh and blood Jesus, with all the messiness of this fallen world. It was probably stressful.  It was probably rushed. It was hardly ideal.  It was messy.  It involved hassle and frustration and not knowing and wonder, awe, joy and bliss when God's plan was fully rendered, fully known in that first Silent night.  

So Merry Christmas to all of you in this week before Christmas, may you give things that tickle others hearts, prepare your own hearth and home to receive Him, and find the joy that comes from knowing that God gave all for each of us in becoming man, that we may one day rest in His presence and sing full throated with the angels with our whole hearts. 

1 comment:

munchesmom said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing it! Merry Christmas!

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