Brueggemann: Gift of the Christmas Season on its Fifth Day
“Christmas is especially for those of us whose lives are scarred and hurt in debilitating ways. Of course, that means all of us. Christmas is about a word from God addressed to the world in its exhaustion. ..Behold I am doing a new thing. Christmas is a day to stop and notice the newness that God is giving that lets our life start over in a fresh place.” Walter Brueggemann, Devotion for Advent, Celebrating Abundance. pp. 68-69
So much of our life has been connected to schools and colleges. The twelve days of the church’s Christmas Season and especially the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is traditionally a slow down time for higher education where people are on vacation or are less busy. It is amazing how my body and my mind have been conditioned over the years to live at a different pace during this Christmas Season. It is a Christmas gift. The days are shorter. I can sleep until seven am and go to my window and still watch the world yawn and wake up around me.
This morning is rainy and wet with a dense fog. There are fewer leaves. Even with the thick mist, I can see at a greater distance with a wider world view. I watch the deer gallop away together by my window back to the woods as they hear the sound of cars. The busy territorial squirrels chase each other up and down trees. The cardinals and woodpeckers come to the feeder by my window and share space with smaller birds whose markings I cannot read.
I have time to listen to the rhythm of the rain. It is as hypnotic as ocean waves, but the ocean is like a Souza march keeping perfect time while the rain changes and is slower and then faster and then softer and then louder like the improvisation of jazz.
I switch gears and turning inside, I open my memory book to Christmases in the past, re-enter those scenes and bring them alive. Traveling to the beach. Shopping with children and grandchildren. Going to movies. Ice skating. Family dinners. Watching slides. Leftovers. Reading new books or old ones I have in a to-read-list stack by my desk and bed. Writing. Visits to and from family we have missed seeing during the year. Spending time with old and new friends I have neglected because of my busyness. Resting.
The church year gives us a few more days at the end of our calendar year for this short Christmas season and extends it to Epiphany, the celebration of the arrival of the Wise Men on January 6. My prayer today is that I will open this gift and treasure the precious present of these 12 days of the Christmas Season.