Monday, December 26, 2011
The Deep Place of Christmas
Remember the one night that burns all the darkness away
Remember the one peace that dissolves all worry and fear
That light and peace are asleep in the hay
That light and peace are asleep in the boat
That light and peace are deep, deep within
where all is calm and all is bright
Luminous Night by Christina Rogers
It is the day after Christmas. For some there will be an emotional letdown. For others the distress of overspending financial resources and overextending physical resources is just beginning to make itself felt.
Just after Thanksgiving I landed a dreadful cough and cold that slowed me down and drained off much of the energy I would have extended over the Christmas season. The cough kept me up and upright. I couldn't sleep lying down so I spent many nights sleeping (or not) in a chair in the living room.
I read through several devotional blogs I follow, started a new book by Eugene Peterson (Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places) and haunted the Psalms, all from my coughing chair. I was tired but inspired. The result was that I slid into Christmas in slow motion this year.
There were no Christmas lights on our house but a candle was burning sweetly in my heart. The stable was swept clean and fresh straw was waiting in my manger-heart. Jesus settled in where He had been made welcome. Peace on the hay.
That peace settled nicely around me on Christmas eve. Midnight Mass has always been a favorite holiday event for me and this year I went with a friend. (John was to preach at the jail on Christmas day so he was home tuning up his message.) We went early to listen to the carols sung before Mass. There was an entire row right in front of the altar, in front of the manger, waiting for us.
The service was lovely, the music beautiful, but then there was the incense. Always my favorite part of High Mass, this evening it was special. There was so much more room in me for it to fill. The priest stood directly in front to us and waved the censer over us. Fragrant sacred incense swirled out and up and around us. We breathed it in and it filled lung and bone and soul.
It is all about making room. That is why the innkeeper is important to the Christmas story. How had I minimized him all these years? There he was hiding in the shadow of the angels and the Magi. Even a little room, a lowly room, is enough room to begin to go from hay to boat to deep, deep within where all is calm, all is bright.
John had given me roses earlier that day. (We were engaged 39 years ago on Christmas eve.) I had brought one with me to Mass-to the stable. As my friend and I went to the car that first hour into Christmas morning, Kim handed me the rose. I took the red rose petals and threw them up into the falling snow right there in the church parking lot.
I am the rose of Sharon...(Songs 2:1)
Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow....(Isaiah 1:18)
Mary took...an expensive perfume...poured it on Jesus’ feet...and the house was filled with the fragrance...(John 12:3)
We wasted that Christmas rose on Jesus then we drove home in the snow with just the faintest hint of incense clinging to our clothes but- with souls richly perfumed.
The snow has ceased falling but I suspect the rose petals have not. It is my prayer that they will drop daily into our lives, into your life, into the the deep, deep places within. Onto Holy ground.
This has been a luminous Christmas I will long treasure as I treasure the friends, the family and the Savior who have enriched my life.
With a deep gratitude.