Tinsel and Tears at Christmas
We all have times when waves of weariness and pain threaten to erode our best defenses. They bring cold, dark water with a dangerous undertow. Sometimes December intensifies the pain, the fear. People are laughing, singing, wishing us a “Merry Christmas”. Our world expects us to be happy.
We forget that from its very beginning, Christmas has been a mixture of tinsel and tears, joy and sorrow. Our Christmas story tells us that God’s coming to live among us on earth brought joy amidst sorrow and fear. Mary and Joseph, engaged but not yet married, far from family, are homeless in a strange place. In the midst of their distress new life comes. Their beautiful baby is born.
The promise of Christmas is not a life free from pain, grief or illness. The promise of Christmas lies in hope, hope for new life. The promise of Christmas is God’s presence among us, God’s endless love surrounding us. Julian of Norwich, a thirteenth century mystic offers us this centering prayer: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” This is faith. This is hope. God has promised to guide our footsteps, to carry us when we falter and to bring forth new life within us.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book, “Simple Abundance” tells us that when she is overwhelmed with life, she repeats Julian’s prayer over and over like a mantra. Rather than offering understanding or answers, this prayer brings hope and peace. The words bring strength enough to hold on until the night gives way to a new day, a good day.
This Christmas season, open your heart to God’s hope in the midst of your darkness. Trust that eventually, ”all will be well”, maybe not today, maybe not as you had planned and dreamed, but in God’s time and in God’s way. Believe with Julian of Norwich, “all manner of things will be well.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)