Rediscovering Awe.

My favorite time of year is September to December. I love the beginning of fall – scarves, boots, jeans, football, crisp weather, the anticipation of a change and then the gradual descent into winter. In Colorado it can be warm and 70 degrees one day and a blizzard the next. Regardless of that, there is a slowness of winter that encroaches like fog. When I lived in Nashville it also meant that it was almost time to see my family. I would get so excited to see them and just sit with them around the fire or laugh about silly things we had done as kids. As I’ve gotten older the time together has been more precious and more fun. We laugh harder, love better, and cherish each other more. At the same time, some of the magic of Christmas has been lost on me. Maybe because I live with my folks and I see them all the time, the excitement of being around my family has waned a bit. Working in a church has changed my perspective as well. Christmas is one of the two busiest days of the year for us (the other being Easter Sunday). At Woodmen we will probably have 12,000+ people come through our doors at two campuses over the course of six services. We have hundreds of volunteers, the entire staff, and enough food to feed a small army to get us through twelve hours of services. Last year was my first encounter with an event of such significant undertaking. The day itself is a blast but it also changes the way I see Christmas. Christmas Eve no longer holds the magic it once did. Now I see it as a day to prepare to be on my feet for several hours, planning sensible shoes, and prepping my face for lots of smiling. We get angry, sad, hurting, broken, annoyed, distraught, lost people but we also see moments of joy as well. Families together for the first time in a long time, reconciled friends, new loves, brand new babies, new seasons, and kids. Lots and lots of kids. Little girls in their crinkly dresses and sparkly shoes twirling to show off how lovely they are. Little boys in uncomfortable dress clothes with slicked back hair and a face that expresses how much they dislike their current state. One thing they both have in common is their awe. They still have a secret that we no longer hold. They have the secret of a wonder at the magic of the season. They get it – more than anyone else, they get what it’s about. Oh how I long for the child-like revelry in the simplest things. I miss stopping in the middle of the street to catch a snowflake. I miss staying up as long as I could to catch Santa. I miss the hope I had in what my grown up life would be like. Most of all, I miss the wonder of a tiny baby who was born and laid in a manager who would one day grow up to die on my behalf. It was so simple and astonishing when I was little. The closest I get to that now is the moment when we light candles, turn off the lights and sing “Silent Night.” In those brief minutes, I’m transported to a sacred time where all that mattered was to worship the King of kings. That is the time when fears are stilled and strivings cease. I confess – this year I’ve been more checked out than normal. I’m still not done with my Christmas shopping and I think I’ve baked less this Christmas season than any other. A broken heart only perpetuates my lack of inspiration in this season. Now it’s another reminder than I’m still alone. I’m still not where I wanted or hoped to be. My dreams and plans have been broken and taken away. The flame in my heart has quickly died to a small flicker ready to extinguish at the slightest breeze.I’ve lost the hope that comes with Christmas. I’ve lost the magic and I don’t know how to recover it.  Yet in the midst of this, I know that Christmas will come again in twelve more months. While my heart may be lost and broken in this season, all seasons end. Christmas will once again hold magic and hope. Because that’s what Christmas is all about – a rescue from darkness, hope for a hopeless world, freedom from captivity. How fitting the beginning of the end of my darkness starts at Christmas. My prayer for this next season is that Christmas will inspire awe in my heart. My hope is that my heart will no longer feel old and cynical – that the little faces of those I’ll see tomorrow will bring me back to the message of Christmas. Because it’s a good message, the best really. I am to be pitied more than all fools if I lose sight of those things.

 

Silent Night

Holy Night

All is calm

All is bright

Round yon virigin

Mother and child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace.

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