Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Words of Christmas and the Baby

Originally uploaded by abhayah~.

Becky and I celebrated our twentieth Christmas early this year because soon she’ll be off to other climes with someone else she now calls, “Baby.”

We three have given one another a rather surreal year. And while I’m not sure if “surreal” is the most appropriate word to use, we could certainly start there if we agree to throw in pain, rage, turmoil, fear, insanity, sailing on the water, learning about love and blessedness as well.

Nothing has been easy. Not even last night, though we knew that we were now arriving at our own version of “Peace on Earth.” Still, emotions were at such a pitch twice we had to stop and recompose, forcing Baby finally to ask, “Are we going to do this every year?” Those were just the words we needed. They broke crying off into bashful laughter.

Then this morning, I came across these words by Jeanette Winterson. She’s a poet and of course much better with her words than I. These particular ones are from her December comments and they seem to put the events of “we three’s trials and tribs” into a larger context of the Season. So I pass them on to you. Perhaps you’ll find something of yourself amidst her sentiments.

Jeanette Winterson: ….it doesn’t matter what God you worship, if any, what matters is how you approach the spiritual life – what TS Eliot called, ‘a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.’…

Some people find that any religious poem or piece of music or painting feels closed to them, but that is usually because the piece has become too overlaid with ideology, or stolen for some false purpose, or that we ourselves lack the courage or the patience to see though the wrapper… [But]… if Christmas is to have any meaning – and it should – let it be its own message, and not one of fake sentiment or religiosity. The birth of Jesus is about new life, new beginnings, new possibilities, and it happens not when everything is going well, or in a 5 star hotel, or when we’ve just won the lottery, but in there with the animal feed, in the stable, cold and dark and unprepared for. This is a no-frills moment. Anyone can be generous and easy when everything is perfect – but a new chance, for yourself or others, just doesn’t usually happen that way.

Change, when it comes, is often uncomfortable and not at all how we imagined it. The clichés and the sentiment aren’t present in the Christmas Story – we added all that later. An unmarried mother gives birth in a stable – try that now and the tabloids would be after you as unfit, the child would be taken into care and Joseph would be named and shamed – and given a DNA test.

It is an uncomfortable story, and one that is worth a close reading. The moment, when it happens, is never easy, and the miracle we say we long for brings as many problems as it solves, because it demands an entire re-configuration of who we are.

(... And if you still have a few moments to doodle round the blog, return to the photo I selected here. Click on it and view it large sized on the Flickr website. I love the little shed reflected in the red bulb. And the snow flurries coming down... lovely world is captured here. Enjoy!)