A few quiet moments in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree at my mom's house.
Happy Christmas, dear friends.
As I sit here on this Christmas Eve night and compose this note to you, I wonder where you are as you read it. What have these days been like for you? Is this Christmas holiday a joyful or painful one for you, or perhaps a mixture of both?
I wonder, too, in what ways you may have anticipated and encountered the Christ child for whom this holiday is named. I hope you have discovered him in these recent days. I hope your heart is one in which expectation has been set and preparations made for at least one transforming encounter with the love of Christ.
Love came down to meet us. That's what this holy day signifies.
These days, I am thinking much on Mary, the mother of Christ. I've been reading my way ever so slowly through a little book called The Reed of God, which is a meditation on her life. The book suggests that she, more than any other human being who ever lived, is our best teacher on what it means to be emptied so as to be filled with Christ.
Through the reading of this book, I find myself asking all sorts of questions, such as: What sort of person was Mary to say yes, without hesitation or question, to a kiss from the Holy Spirit that would lead to all sorts of scandal and misunderstanding and inconvenience in her life? What would it have been like for Mary to create a truly hospitable environment in her body, spirit, and soul for this Christ child to grow in health inside of her before being born into the world? What would it have been like for Mary to raise Jesus in the world as his mother, teaching and exhorting and correcting him as he grew, yet serving him and bowing to him as her Lord?
This book has given me much to ponder.
I've been struck, too, by this statement: "God knew Our Lady's trust in Him was absolutely without limit. Everything that He did to her in the future emphasised the same thing. His trust in her trust in Him" (page 34).
God knew that Mary trusted Him unconditionally and that whatever he did or asked of her would be met with unquestioning acceptance. That's why he could choose her to bear Jesus inside her body. That's why he could choose her to be his mother, even though he knew this beloved son of hers would die at a too-young age and under quite horrific and unjust circumstances.
She trusted God, and so God knew that he could trust her.
When I read these words, I realize one thing: I didn't have that kind of trust in God throughout this pruning year. I questioned and struggled and cried. I pounded my fists and demanded answers. I expected to receive those answers, and yet I couldn't find them, no matter how hard I looked.
I didn't trust him. I see that now.
I shared recently that God has graced me with glimpses into the work he has been about in me. He didn't have to do that, but he did, and these sightings have greatly increased my trust in him. They've taught me in quite a big way that God has always known exactly what he was doing, even if I did not. Even if it made absolutely no sense to me. Even if I couldn't find answers or relief.
It is my hope that I will now move into the future with a greater trust in God at every moment. It is my hope that I will trust that God is always about the work of completing what he started in me and that he will not give up until it's done. It is my hope that I will always remember not a hair on my head goes unnoticed by God and that every movement in my life, therefore, is intentional and purposeful.
This is my hope. It is a hope birthed from contrition that led to repentance. I pray that God would find in me a willing vessel to receive him and serve him without question. Even now, I know that he will find in me that vessel, for this is the work he has been about all along: preparing me to receive him, emptying me so I could be filled with him, all because he has had in mind my vesselship for his use.
I love you, Jesus. Welcome into the world this day. Welcome into the world through me.