We didn’t know how crooked the trunk was when we cut it down. The uneven ground, half mounded up around it’s base, the way it’s lower limbs dusted the surface of the earth, and the rows and rows of trees surrounding it, all helped to make the thing appear straight.
It’s not the first time we’ve been deceived by appearances.
We brought it home, righted that evergreen in it’s base and for days it stood proud and lovely.
Until it didn’t.
Advent does this to me year after year and I’m never ready for the crashing that comes in the middle of the frantic journey to Christmas.
The days might looked more like struggle than celebration. More like kids fighting, and rooms perpetually messy. More like melting snow pooling in brown puddles by the door and schoolwork abandoned mid-page for the distraction of snow falling on the other side of the glass.
It can look more like dinners made but not eaten, fights started and pages torn. Sometimes, it’s days of wrestling matches ending in tears and baths gone too long, and bed times extending beyond all measure of patience.
It’s cookies for neighbors, still unmade, and Christmas cards pilling up, without stamps.
Our joy can suffocated at the bottom of the laundry chute, the one that belches dirty clothes day after day–after day.
It may look like slipping down the driveway, or forgetting to return overdue library items–for days. It’s fines mounting and running out of ketchup and soy sauce and eggs when you need them the most.
Advent is never what I imagine, because my imagination is never realistic.
I wonder what Mary imagined, bulging with a God-baby that had no earthly Father.
I wonder how many years I will stockpile expectations only to be jarred by the reality that Advent is simply not an easy season–and maybe that’s okay.
Maybe Advent is meant to teach us about expectations and clinging to hope in the dark, long hours of uncertainty.
Christ comes to us in the middle of our mess.
The tree, trimmed with glass and sparkle, tips over under the weight of its adorning. The crashing of all of that shine reminds me of what matters most, and where my treasure is.
We can decorate this season to the hilt, we can party and carrol our way right up the edge of the manger–what we find there is glory in disguise.
We find a plain baby.
We find an infant king without clothes or crown.
Christ comes lowly. He comes humble and calls us to the same.
Take off your pretenses and airs. unstrap the masks from your face, from your heart–let Him in. Prepare Him room.
He longs to live in us.
We pick our way through the room, collecting shards and wires, hooks lay mangled, and glitter litters the floor. Christmas comes crashing down while we slept and nobody hears a thing–
Christ slips in, in the dark of our wrestling moments, His coming opens our eyes, our hearts. None of these things matter. Not the laundry or the library books, not the cards or the crooked tree, not really.
We get the bent tree back up, stuffing it in the corner, leaning far back for support. We suck up the shards and pick up the metal, the brown bag of shrapnel glimmers in the light. The broken is beautiful still.
Christmas crashes in to our already busy lives. It’s the very best kind of interruption.
It is absolutely divine.
“The mysterious, invisible authority of the divine child over human hearts is more solidly grounded then the visible and resplendent power of earthly rulers. Ultimately all authority on earth must serve only the authority of Jesus Christ over humankind.” (Bonhoeffer)
Counting on, beyond 1000 Gifts
learning to be open
hearing from God
prophesies, old and new
desperate clinging to faith, in the unrelenting face of fear
friends who love with abandon
a husband, MY husband
children’s excitement growing
the generosity of our families
how the broken can be beautiful (grace)