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En(courage)ment for hard times, This is Christmas

no room


No room in my life for a slower pace right now.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil. All of my wheels are currently squeaky. It is a busy season. My days are filled with normal things like chores and homeschooling and errands and the kids’ extras, with stolen hours crammed in for creativity and reading and fun. Couponing to save money, unpacking the last few boxes from our recent move, decorating for Christmas, and compiling lists of everything I can’t forget.

It is not bad, just full. A juggling act. My solitude/quiet/slow pace-loving soul is struggling to catch up. I’m not good at days packed to the gills. No room for simplicity and rest. No room to think or recharge.

Christmas is out there in the world, coming down the runway loud and brassy, all jingling bells and 24 hour sales and to do lists and speed.

No room for starry nights or baaing sheep.

In here, in my normal living room, with discarded toys and books, tangled yarn and sleeping dogs, a tree top-heavy with breakable ornaments and sloppy with the rumpled tree-skirt, Christmas unfolds with less frenzy, more accessibility.

But I find, at first glance, with no room for wonder or magic.

It is not that I, that we are incapable of slow or starry or wondrous. We simply find, quite often, that we have no more room. No vacancy. No margin for something new to move in.

No room in the inn for a baby’s birth. No matter the urgent need. A stable instead, where the animals slept. The livestock breathed out steamy breath to a small miracle on the straw. Helpless little last minute guest in a barn, laid in a feeding trough, wrapped in rags, to a teen mom. A very weird few days, with visiting kings and profound shepherds and astronomical signs.

We all know the story.

No room in our culture for this knowledge. A virgin, singing hosts, prophecy, a messiah? We live in a world of iPhones, voyeurism, amenities, high-speed internet. While most of us acknowledge our need for hope, and allow that there is a spiritual aspect to life, and care that there are people starving, trafficked, naked, orphaned, our day-to-day thoughts can go all over the place, from solid surface countertops to our paycheck’s ability to pay our bills, from the price of gasoline to our kid making the basketball team. Truthfully, our minds cannot even keep up with these.

Not just millenia separate us from the story, but relevance.

No room in our schedules for worship. The God of the universe, come down as a human? Controversies of politics and the scandals of Christian leaders pepper our newspapers and fill our sighs. We dash toward 9, away from 5, if we’re lucky. Some of us dash around the clock. Like me, lately.

That’s okay, the story begs. I am not trying to win over your mind. I can not hope to capture your imagination, not yet. I know your time is important. Your schedule full of valid commitments. I promise not to force myself into your life. I realize you have no room.

 If it’s okay, I’d like to stay in your heart.

This old thing? It is tired, used, hardened and selfish. Dirty.

Like a barn.

We’d like to think we have good hearts, and that we can gauge the state of others’ hearts too, but despite our best show, in spite of our best efforts toward fleeting goodness, inside we are motivated by smallness and greed, vanity, anger and jealousy.

I’d like to be born there, He says. And offers Himself, all new and clean and fresh, Father Christmas, to our old and dirty and stale.

In this world, via small scandal, He arrives on the scene, dismissed to the outbuildings where nothing important is happening.

In my heart, dark stable where lesser things live, things that cannot be housed in the public light of day, where there is plenty of room if one does not mind the company, He comes to be born.

With startling relevance.

It changes everything

This is Christmas.



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