It’s Christmastime. The time when sensitive, dramatic souls unite to feel all the feelings all day long about all the things. Christmas makes me feel emotional; truest lyrics ever penned, Jay Livingston.
Every year, I am twelve years old all over again: totally grown up about this whole Santa thing but wishing with all my childish heart that I would just hear some flippin’ sleigh bells overhead and prove the whole cynical world wrong about everything. There is magic. I would know it then. The next guy wouldn’t have to know it, but I would, my every hope totally vindicated.
I still do this. I am always, every moment looking for God. The idea that he came as an ordinary baby in an ordinary way – it moves me. He was a boy in the village. Everyone knew him. Jesus was as common a name as my own son’s. But he was the one. And this time of year, more than any other, I wonder if I would have been one of the lucky ones, one that recognized him through all that ordinary. And that’s why I look so hard for him, in all the places, in all the people, all the time.
I think sleigh bells work so beautifully with Christmas because they signal that something is coming. I love musicians for putting this sound into music cannon for all eternity since the actual comparable sound today would be the flash of headlights in the window or the stirring of gravel in the drive. I have never and will never outgrow the feeling that the thing that is coming could be wonderful.
Jesus was called Emmanuel because it means God with us. God. With. Us. How hard can it possibly be to find him? In my mind he is every moment trying to reach through to us as we try to reach through to him. And it’s the moments of connection that I look for, desperately, relentlessly, always with a beautiful dissonance of desperate doubt and calm assurance that of course they will happen; they have always happened before.
When two people love each other, especially if it’s not that easy to do because of their differences, I find him there. When I can’t get out of my mind the teacher in our community who has received I think more bad news with cancer than good, and I begin to pray for her every single day because she has become my Christmas wish, and then I see her in person and I’m able to tell her so, I find him there. In my children when they’re kind to each other, in the unbelievable beauty of snow and the moon and the dark blanket of sky behind them, I find him there. I find him in you, in my own raggedy story of health and sickness and health again, and I find him in the space between us.
I’m lighting candles, from now until I leave this full and complicated, wonderful, tragic earth. I’m eyes wide open, heart open, child-hope alive and well, reaching, reaching, reaching into every ordinary place, desperate to see him, straining to hear the bells. I always have before. I have never held the candle without eventually seeing the Light.
It’s Christmastime. And I love it. Because this is the time of year when I want to see God the most, and the time of year when he’s always easiest to find.