Last Sunday, we arrived at church and Luke had no shoes. I am the mother who sends their kids to Sunday school with no shoes. And then, at one point in yesterday’s church service, I panicked because I thought I had forgotten to put on a bra. Reaching for my shoulder, I realized I had remembered after all. I am the lady in the fourth row who has gone mad. Holiday helter skelter. Too much on the brain.
I see a woman for spiritual direction every so often and the last time we met, I talked with her about my own internal posture as we head into the holidays. As we all do, I want to experience meaning, celebration, fun, joy. And, as we all do, I want to experience those things from a place of peace, not breathless frenzy, with a bra on preferably. I want to—as very much as possible—stay out of Christmas Crazytown.
She asks, “What helps you feel like you are at home within yourself?”
I’ve been turning that one over and over. Do I know how to find, nurture, and return to that home within? That space where I feel centered and full of breath? Do I know what I need in order to feel at home within myself?
Her point was, if I can inhabit that true place within myself, the activity will flow from a place of wholeness and belonging instead of a place of trying-to-fix-and-feel-better-through-frantic-activity.
I thought I’d share her question here, with you, because it seems so very essential to knowing what we need to let go of over these next few weeks and what we need to focus on, insist on, even.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I am a lover of Maya Angelou. She is a true poet, an artist with words. I am, in a word, totally obsessed with her. My mother-in-law just sent me Angelou’s Christmas poem, which I had never read. I wanted to share it with you here as it so beautifully sets up the disorientation we can feel against the Peace that has come to walk among us and bring us home.Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by you.
Yesterday, my church started a new advent series called, “It Would Take a Miracle.” Matt invited us to think about areas of our lives and our relationships that would require a miracle to reconcile, heal, reestablish. He asked us to put our finger on the place in our lives that feels broken, to acknowledge where we need a miracle.
This year, it’s my brain. With all the small children and convalescing husband and big plans, my brain is MIA, which allows just enough space for anxiety to take over. It will take a miracle for me to keep us all clothed and in our right minds.
Advent reminds us that we need a miracle. We are, in fact, waiting for the miracle. And, we will celebrate that the miracle did, indeed, come to us.
Last Sunday, my dear friend Wanida sang “God is bigger than . . .” from the stage at our church. I keep thinking about that phrase. God is bigger than . . . family drama, my own anxiety, Luke with no socks, my failing brain, Steve’s hip surgery, all my big plans, all your big plans. He’s bigger than all of it. He’s inviting us out to that bigger moment, that bigger story. He’s inviting us into that place of peace and home.
The Miracle, the Peace, the Baby-sent-to-save is bigger than absolutely anything you and I are up against. Avalanches. Bombs. Bralessness. Brainfreeze. Thunder. Disaster. Hate. Rancor. Division.
Let us make our way to higher ground.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.