Reflecting on this tumultuous year, quiet waiting during the Advent season for Christmas was a welcome respite from the preoccupations of the last twelve months. Year end is a time of reflection, but this year, recollection seems especially poignant. Where are we? Where have we been? Where are we going?
The model of the tiny family journeying to Bethlehem beckons us. Their loving unity of purpose and mutual reliance is an ideal, even in their adverse circumstances – away from home on the road, cold, hungry, perhaps frightened by the strangeness of the unwelcoming town. Husband and heavily pregnant wife come in obedience to an unwelcome government edict, disrupting their lives at a time when they want only to remain protected in their carpenter’s home in Nazareth.
The unity of these two and soon these three, a family, foundation of all that is human, is part of what draws us to them. We tell and retell their story billions of times. Do we covet this unity, this certainty, this peace amidst fragmentation, adversity and loneliness?
We are seemingly ever more divided as we coalesce uneasily into the circles of a complex Venn diagram: sets based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, educational level, coastal or fly over country, urban, suburban or rural. Scattered and alienated, we define carefully how each differs from the other, competes with the other, criticizing the groups different from us.
When we look around at what is deemed the post-modern culture, is the question what are the characteristics of the American culture? Or is the question whether there is even a cohesive, intelligible American culture? Where do we find the unity and belonging our humanness so longs for?
Christmas, the connectedness of that little family in Bethlehem and within our own families and friends offers us that peace, if we choose to seek it and to live it.
This Christmas invites us into warmth and a well-lighted room. In that room, we will be content by the fire in slippers with our feet up, quietly musing on where we’ve been and who we are. Where is our center, our truth? In that room, we will close our eyes and listen to the music of our hearts. In that room is joyful serenity and Love.
God’s blessings on you and yours.
Merry Christmas and happy reveries.
Love, Jack and Rita