O come, O Come Thou Day-spring bright
Pour on our souls Thy healing light
Dispel the long night's lingering gloom
And pierce the shadows of the tomb
It just doesn't feel like Christmas. I have no idea how many times I've said that over the past couple weeks, but it's a lot. I could try to come up with why -- from the tears that well up in my eyes for the heartache of people I care about, to being so disorganized, to the weather -- but I don't know that it really matters why. Regardless of why, I can't seem to find the Christmas Spirit and I am not ready for Christmas. This is not good, since there are only two days between now and Christmas Day and then it will be here whether I am ready for it or not.
I keep trying to listen to Christmas music and watch Christmas movies and wrap Christmas gifts, but if I'm honest, the music is getting on my nerves and I've really only managed to watch two Christmas movies and I didn't get anyone a truly good gift this year. Don't worry. I'm not going all Grinch on my kids or anything. They are getting some great presents and I am able to muster up excitement for them. But when they aren't around and it's just me, I feel like it is all a ridiculous waste of time and I cannot wait for it to be over.
The things I really want can't be wrapped and put under a tree. In fact, it's really felt lately like the things I want can't "be" at all. No amount of asking Santa or wishing on a star or praying or petitioning can bring them about or make them possible, regardless of Christmas magic or anything else. I want kids -- not just my kids, but all kids -- to be safe and healthy. I want families to be able to celebrate the holidays together. I want people to not be lonely or sad or sick. I want everyone everywhere to have what they need. I want us to be able to resolve conflict without violence, because I don't want my kids to grow up and know all the terrible things humans do to each other when they see each other as enemies instead of brothers and sisters in Creation. I want peace and I want life. For everyone.
Yet, we all know the harsh reality. Things are bad. Things are messed up. Certainly, there are moments of hope, those passing seconds where things seem right and hope blossoms despite all odds. Then we remember how wrong so many things are and it is difficult to keep that hope from fading. So often, it seems as though hope is something we once knew, but now exists only in our memories. As Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote, "Hope in the past tense, [is] one of the saddest sounds a human being can make." Sometimes it seems impossible to think of hope as something that still exists, as sad and horrible and pessimistic as that is to admit.
I've stated before that I'm not an optimist, yet, regardless of our beliefs, Christmas seems to call for an attempt at looking on the proverbial bright side. This year, I can't do that on my own. Christmas will come. Right here in my home there will be love and laughter. I will smile and laugh and hug my family and watch gifts exchanged and I will force myself to be in the moment and enjoy it. I will remember why we celebrate Christmas at all and I will be grateful. I will cling to the love I have for others and the love I receive.
But if the lingering gloom is to be dispelled, it will take more than gifts or lights or faith or love: It will take renewed hope.
Time will tell if that remains. I hope with all my heart it does.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
- I Corinthians 13:13
- I Corinthians 13:13