What is it about this season that seems to amplify everything in life. My pastor's monthly newsletter column captured, for me, the challenge of Merry Christmas: "Have you ever noticed that there is something about Christmas that turns up the volume of whatever we are going through? If things are good it makes them seem even better. But when things are bad it makes it feel even worse. It is amazing to me that during this time of year when we celebrate that Jesus came to give us hope, some people feel the most hopeless." (Barry Lind, pastor Northwood Christian Church)
It is as if the Joy, Hope, and Blessing that exemplify this season are just out of reach-hiding behind an opaque barrier that I can't seem to bust through.
I spent an hour this morning talking with a woman who is fighting to not have her home repossessed. She is a single mom, works two jobs, and is drowning in medical debt. Her ex won't pay child support. She is struggling to 'hide' all of this from her kids and give them a special Christmas. But, I could see that she is barely hanging on. Thank God for the BLESSING that is having a committed spouse, a secure roof over my head, and plenty of food to eat.
My son came home unexpectedly for Thanksgiving. His college is on the other side of the country so during the school year, we only see him at Christmas. The gift of 10 days with him was such an unexpected treat. At times I miss the little boy who used to jump in my bed and snuggle. At the same time, it is wonderful to see him growing into such a great man. For the holiday he baked three amazing pies from scratch-carrying on the family tradition of skilled cooks. Thank God for the JOY I find in my son, my family and my friends.
I don't know about HOPE right now. It seems especially far away. The consistent presence of God in my life is my lifeline. I find myself getting bogged down in the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of the past few weeks: a new wheelchair lift, a new heating system; and other costs both material and spiritual that whirl around endlessly in my head. I am struggling with depression and nerve pain. Somewhere in there is hope; I just have to find it. I choose to thank God for the whisper of hope that sustains me.
The answer to this might just be found in the title for this post: Tis the Season to BE. And that is enough; not be merry, just be. Every moment that my heart beats and my lungs draw air is a gift. Things like playing cribbage with my Dad and warm slippers and a snoring dog are simple pleasures that give meaning to my days. I renew my commitment to live the life I have and to hold to the things that make life livable.