The Day after Christmas and the Day After That and the ...

by - December 27, 2019

I turned on the tree lights this morning. The dryer tumbles a load of mixed colors and textures, because separating laundry is too tedious a task for the day after Christmas.

The boxes and bags I collapsed and folded as we opened presents are a leaning tower peeking out from beneath the coffee table where I stashed them. There's still a pile of bows juxtaposed beside our coffee-table Jesus in his manger.

Can our gifts and their beautiful presentation hold weight on one end of a scale that holds God in the flesh on the other side?
The silver and china are clean and awaiting storage on the remnants of the Christmas tablescape in the dining room.
The untidiness lingers because, for the first time in years, I went back to work the day after Christmas. I usually spend the day after Christmas scrubbing our home clean of the lavish celebration.
This year, remnants of Christmas morning linger two days later. And while the lights bring the tree to life this morning, it looks stale not even 48 hours after we celebrated a newborn God birthed in a barn.

Because the mess remains this year, I am pondering the Messiah mixed with our forgotten wrappings, and why Christmas tree lights fail to cast any beautiful light on this scene today.

We need the other 364 days each year to parse what it means to live now in the aftermath -- now that we know a God, who is kind, came for us, a God who, if we allow him to, will wreck us only to right us.

I don't know how to live in light of this. How can it be stale today, already?

I make coffee, pack my lunchbox with more leftovers, and sit with a book and the stark, cold, quiet of being alone downstairs, unwrapped from the warm, peace of cocooned sleep my daughters still enjoy. I'm mulling the disarming questions as I open Small Victories.

Anne Lamott is exploring her fraught relationship with her mother, and I well with tears when I read this about her mother's ashes:

So I left her in the closet for two years as I worked on forgiving her for having been a terrified, furious clinging maw of neediness and arrogance. I suppose that sounds harsh. I assumed Jesus wanted me to forgive her, but I also know He loves honesty and transparency. I don't think He was rolling His eyes impatiently at me while she was in the closet. I don't think much surprises Him. This is how we make important changes -- barely, poorly, slowly. And still, He raises His fist in triumph (pp. 140-141).

Sometimes a thing can change us in a moment. Light pierces the darkness, a baby God fulfills all the prophecies, angel hosts sing heavenly song to the earthen, and nothing is ever the same again.

But most of the time, we have to turn on the lights each cold, lonely morning and spend another day trying to figure out what it all means and how in this world we will live now in the days after knowing this benevolence. This might take some time.

It is work done humbly, poorly, barely, and work celebrated, perhaps with a fist pump, by a God who comes to us the same way.

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  1. Yes, yes, and yes. You write with wisdom born from experience, and with transparency that invites us to explore along with you. Thank you for sharing this, my friend.


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