I’m finally getting around to my Christmas letter. I’m not the only one… I’ve received them from friends as late as Feb 14th. But a thought that rolled around during the Christmas season, is now coming to fruition. It’s raw, but real.
Entertaining the Holy
Most of my life’s journey has been travelled at least in view of pleasant landscapes. It has not been difficult to be hopeful or generally optimistic. This Christmas, I feel hope wearing dangerously thin. After twelve plus years of caring for a special needs child, the threat of other trouble on the horizon leaves me filled with doubt as to how we will carry on. Is that my quota – one trouble per lifetime? After reading countless patient histories listing multiple tragedies per family, I should know better. And so I find my faith shallow, and my mind wrestling with angels over having to bear more. “Really, is this you, God, standing guard, yet letting trouble fall near?” I had not realized my hope was so circumstantially defined. Oh, shallow soul that I am, only interested in investing where there are guaranteed returns.
I did not win the wrestling match, so here I am; chief caregiver, charged with imagining and developing entertainment for one who is easily delighted, but too-soon disengaged. One who may rarely speak a publicly intelligible word or bear a job title. As I wallow in the sloooo-w progress we sometimes make, the calendar marches through Advent, and on toward Christmas, and I am supposed to be welcoming a Savior, preparing to entertain the Holy One….but instead am occupied with doing the same things over and over again, repeating the same simple guidances.
How, in heaven’s name, does one entertain the Holy, with sufficient reverent pause…in the midst of persistent daily chaos (of my mind , if nothing else)? Then I am reminded, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers… My sweet angel, somewhere in the malformed taxonomy of human achievement, you will be called , ‘one of the least.’ The slowest pace, the lack of speech, the vague response. How slow am I , to realize that I am in the presence of the Holy; the holy intent to love one another, entertained in the daily give and grapple to take one step forward? The holy intent, ‘to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things…”A crushing thought deflates my frustrated agenda-o-meter: this, God, is what you have done for me: repeated the same simple commands, given cues, reviewed directions, gently guided me through the same steps of discipline, over and over again…You have borne my sin, and my propensity to stupidly repeat that sin. You have believed, expanding your breath of faith inside of me, when mine was too small. You, God, have invented hope.
And you, too, dear one, are saddled with one of the least of these…slow wanderer that I am in the desert of misguided self-importance, here to walk you through your days. In a gross paraphrase of Joshua 5:13-15, the Israelites are poised on the plains outside Jericho, after much wandering to find their spiritual way; poised, to live inside the richness of God’s promise. Joshua encounters the ‘commander of the Lord’s army,’ who gives the message, “Take off your shoes (sandals), for the place where you are standing is holy.”
We too, or two, or six…,are poised, to live inside His promise. And on every occasion , whether the advent of something new, or something reviewed, in which we embrace with love, his intent in the struggle, we dance in entertainment of the holy. JF12/4/11;3/14/12