Originally posted December 21, 2008
Christmas is almost here, and so is the beginning of a new year into a new presidency, an uncertain economy, and well, life just fast forwards ahead into the unknown.
I remember a few years ago, after a hectic holiday season, and after a big family party in which we all opened our gifts on Christmas eve and there was a whirl of wrapping and activity and so much noise, it was as if the house were a big pinball machine, I drove that night to a serene seaside town where mostly retirees live.
I remember feeling very sad that night, from a broken heart. I felt great anger from years of feeling betrayed by someone I imagined I loved. I was just tired, and I wanted to rest in the most peaceful place I knew.
Deep in my sleep, in the background of gentle ocean waves washing back and forth, I heard the church bells softly chiming...
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel
And the church bells continued chiming softly the same notes over and over again as I woke up, opened the balcony door, and stepped out to see a gray sky morning melt seamlessly into a gray ocean. But with each breath, and with each moment, and with each chime of the bells, the sunlight starting in little dots and spreading quickly, began to open up a new day. It was then that I realized that it doesn't matter, all of this stuff, this personal fighting, how I could change myself, how I should have known, how I could have been better, the anger and attack, the lists of rights and wrongs, and how this person is wrong, how could that person say that about me, and how I need to teach this person a lesson, and so on.
I had every year to be reborn, and I don't just mean through Christ. I had every year to let the past go, to let whatever bothered me, whatever refused to be forgiven, whatever is wrong with the world and the people in it, I had every year to let it go, to just be fully in the moment, the beautiful moment like the one that early Christmas morning, when I am reminded gently, without words, without endless sermons and Bible verses, of that beautiful child who came into the world, only to love.
There are so many opportunities every day to love and forgive, to laugh off an injury or insult, to simply turn the other cheek...maybe these are the true gifts of Christmas.
What is your favorite Christmas morning memory?