The Return of the King

Can you believe Christmas is ONE WEEK away as I write this post?

There's a lot going on for our family right now, big changes, both good and difficult. 2011 has been a turbulent and challenging year.

The beauty of Christmas is that everything else shrinks in importance compared to the event we celebrate this week.

I didn't feel this way about Christmas, in my ten years as an agnostic. Christmas was just one more event in which the light of wonder had gone out of the world, leaving me with only a flattened version of the holiday.

That memory of loss and flatness makes me exceedingly grateful for the return of the real Christmas to my life. I rejoice in its complexity and sweet harshness, as a mother bears her child in a stable and shares the event with the most humble, honest witnesses: domestic animals and shepherds.

Welcome, real Christmas, the birth of the Christ Child.

Having once forgotten Christmas, like Ebenezer Scrooge, I can never read his words without emotion:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Thank heaven for the Yuletide wrinkle in time, connecting past to present to future.

It graces us with the reminder that our lives are small, brief flashes in the vast constellations of God's plan, written in ciphers across the night sky.

A holy and peaceful Christmas to all of you, my friends.