December 21, 2010

Maybe It's Me: All is Calm, or, All is Bright

Every year I'm filled with and moved by the Christmas spirit. I know the reason for the season and I'm not influenced or blinded by the mistruths, greed, or vanity spun blatantly by corporate commercialism which seems only to expand with each passing year (and earlier each year, too).

And yet, even though I'm fully knowledgeable about the true meaning of Christmas – the ultimate gift of love born to us in a lowly manger in the city of Bethlehem some two thousand years ago all to eventually save us from ourselves - and, despite living my day to day life inspired by such truth, there's something about this season that I feel disconnected from. There's some numbing agent working subconsciously preventing me from recognizing and absorbing the glory of this most beautiful, honest, and generous time of year.

And I feel like I can't talk about it, because it’s socially, culturally, and religiously faux pas to admit that, well, I don't feel anything . . . at least not the way I know I'm supposed to or have in the past.

Every year my Christmases have been beautiful month-long events, starting on Thanksgiving morning and ending when I go to sleep Christmas night. Nothing about this year has been different from years previous. I've done all the right things, all the traditional and seasonal things I’m supposed to do to – I’ve sung carols, watched Christmas specials, eaten holiday sweets, breathed in the sweet pine scent from my decorated evergreen – so according to my senses, the weather, and the calendar: its Christmas.

Usually I'm enthralled by and active in the fullness of the holiday season that leads up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On the other hand, I also spend an inordinate amount of emotional energy throughout the season crying at seemingly everything. And then my mind and spirit crashes, and can't comprehend everything happening on Christmas Eve when the holiday itself and the end of another year seems all so surreal and overall too difficult and sad to digest.

And I've also been noticing a certain sense of post-Christmas blues the past couple of years. I invest so much emotionally, physically, financially, and time wise that on December 26th I'm not sure what to do with myself. I feel depressed that people return to their pre-Christmas selves (when priorities shift back away from family and love to busy work and other self-important matters).

I think part of me is reserving myself to fully embrace the best part of the holiday season I've been so confused and let-down by in the past: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I don't want to be spent on Christmas Eve into Day, bewildered by the ENDING of the holiday season: I want to be enthralled at the ACTUAL holiday AS IT’S happening.

That's the connection I want and am looking for this season: it’s what I'm waiting for. It’s not the build up – it’s that poignant moment ON Christmas Eve into Christmas Day when the Spirit is most present and the only thing left to do is let it all wash over you and bathe in it.

And it’s the same solitary moment every year when Christmas really hits me, and it always happens ON Christmas Eve. It’s when I sing "Silent Night" at a church service in a darkened room lit only by candle light, surrounded by a hundred other voices. I've always felt very small and very alone. Not necessarily in a bad way – just very much aware of myself as an individual in the presence of something much bigger and more intricate, powerful, and lovely than one little girl can hope to explain or even understand fully. I feel totally stripped of my inhibitions, worries, and stresses as I stand wholly broken in the presence of something great.

Unabashedly I weep for a Baby I didn't know who grew up to become the Man who knew me intimately and saved me from my sins; I weep for my grandfather who died in 2006 – he was one of my best friends and I have missed him every day since he passed, it doesn't always hurt but at Christmas it always does; I weep for those that I love that are struggling – especially those who's battles are internal and there's little I can do; I weep for myself – for the things I've fallen short at, for the things I've overcome; I weep for the world we live in and all the needs not being met.

And mostly, I weep because I understand love and feel love in its most pure and sincere form.

All of this – this entire flood of extreme and inescapable emotions – happens between two and four minutes.

Every year.

And I look forward to it.

This year, I just don't need 24 days to exhaust myself leading up to it.

It’s good to feel raw, unadulterated emotions like that. Especially IN the moment, and not after weeks of expectations.

Maybe it’s me, but Christmas isn't supposed to be complicated or cluttered. It’s not SUPPOSED to be about the race or the build up to the day – as wonderful as the traditions and festivities, sweets, sights and sounds are - that's not what Christmas is about.

It’s about love, like the very first gift represented, and the outpouring of love that seems to happen so effortlessly ON Christmas. It’s on people’s faces, in their voices, in their embraces.

That pure, sincere, raw overflow of love that happens in the moment, which no build-up can prepare us for.

When we are filled with and moved by the Spirit the most.

When all is calm.

And all is bright.