Dec 10, 2014

Tiny lights of Joy


I wrote this post last year, but as I am working on Christmas cards again and my family is gearing up to walk the lights of Christmas tree lane, as I have the hard, gut-wrenching conversations of life with dear friends, I just wanted to post it again.  It still seems to be upper most in my thoughts this year again:
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It seems as this Christmas season ticks away, there seems to be swirling around me in different waves, moments of joy and moments of sorrow.  I place the creche up on my carefully decorated mantle, and carefully fill out my Christmas cards. As I fill them out, I am overwhelmed by the bountiful blessings of friendships that have poured into my life over the years. Many cards bring memories of laughter. Many cards are going to friends and family who have grief and sorrow swirling around them this season. My heart is heavy as I address some and wonder how this Christmas season is feeling for them.  Then my daughter calls and I get a silly little delightful moment with my middle child, who is writing Lizzle the elf a note, leaving me smiling at her innocence and sighing that it is passing.  Knowing that there is no sure thing in this life.  So I collect this moment with Ainsley as a precious bead on a string of happiness to be pulled out and treasured in other times.  Joy and sorrow.  Little precious moments butt up in contrast against tough monumental life struggles.

It seems to me that joy and sorrow do meet often and that they are strongest when they do.  The line between them at times seems so thin it's like a screen door, full of holes, where the air between them mingles and intersects.  The warmth from inside feels much warmer in contrast with the clear, cold blast from out of doors.  A taste of sorrow intensifies the warmth of joy when it comes.  And sometimes the air is so intermingled, you can't pull them apart or tell when one starts and one stops.

Mary must have felt that way as an unwed girl, laboring in a cattle stall, having a Son who is God, in poverty, having rough shepherds crash in on you during the night to talk about angels, and later, having kings visit with lavish gifts only to have to flee that night with your toddler across the desert.  Joy, pain, poverty, suffering, hope, chaos, love and wonder.  No wonder in Luke 2, it says of Mary that she treasured up all these things pondering them in her heart.
I ponder these things as well.
I wonder did Mary's joy and sorrow ever feel as if the separation between them was a solid as a heavy door rather than a screen?  Did seeing her son on the cross feel like being cut off from the source of joy?  Did she cling to the promise of hope and moments of wonder when the pathway to joy seemed to be slamming shut?  When Jesus's ministry years where spent rather opposite of what she had thought she had raised Him for, Mary and her other sons were embarrassed and tried to get Him to come home - and He publicly refused.  Did hope and joy mingle with confusion and pain?
And I ponder these things as well.
Do I limit God in my search for joy?  Do I miss that He is always at work?  Do I cling to Him when I cannot see?
I do not blame Mary if she had these thoughts at all.  I want to be like her.  I want to ponder, treasure and seize the little moments of joy and let them be sacred in their smallness.  Small pinpricks of warmth breaking into the cold, until the door is flung wide open and you are enveloped in it.  Sometimes joy is like that I think.  Sometimes it rushes in, and at other times, it's barely pinpricks into the darkness to remind us that joy and hope are just on the other side and closer than we think.  "Smallness" versus "bigness" don't seem to have a place in God's vastness.  To the Giver they are the same.  Therefore, the bigness of the sorrow does not make a small joy flippant or irreverent, rather it is a pinprick to be cherished.  A hope to cling to, a promise of more to come.
Like tiny little pinpricks of Christmas lights flung celebratory into the darkness.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
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As I reflect on this post from last year, I was reminded that Christ is truly God with us.  We read about rainbows in advent one night last week and discussed that God makes and keeps promises.  That night I was struggling with just feeling the nearness of God and asked Him to help me.  I opened the door the next day to see this flung across my doorstep.  It was a complete rainbow, end to end.  The brightest I have ever seen right in front of me.  The best I have is a dull cell phone picture.  But it's burned in my mind.  I have seen many rainbows from my house, some partial, some even full.  I have never seen one like this. Several neighbors came out and stared with me. God didn't want any doubts as to whether this was an answer to me.

Truly He is God with us.  Even for little doubting, pondering, wondering, hoping creature like me.  A celebratory rainbow of light, flung across the sky.  For me.

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