I often imagined myself nestled into an overstuffed couch, beams of light streaming through the sparkling windows spotlighting a steaming teacup waiting to be sipped in the satisfaction of a job well done. It would be my moment in which I knew I had finally arrived.
With each holiday season, I would resolve this would be the one. Oh, Christmas, Christmas in my mind’s eye was presents wrapped well before Thanksgiving so Advent could be dedicated to preparing. My house, that is. Anything less than cookies perfectly baked and decorated, boughs dripping with greens, candles flickering, I deduced was unacceptable. Lists written and tasks assigned to carefully planned days … I would all too soon find myself in a never-ending cycle of chaotic morning send-offs and rushed dinners. My little ones who were sure this would be the best Christmas ever seemed to energize every nook of our home and zap every ounce of my energy.
The comings and goings of gatherings and parties, presents and preparation paired with babies beyond excited would leave me feeling depleted and wondering why I continued to fail in my quest for peace.
That is until I didn’t have those days and I wanted nothing more than to hear the echo of my babies’ laughter reverberate off every wall. Ten days before Christmas my six-year-old Catherine died. My brave boy was eight. Year by year, after Catherine’s death, we would settle into the Christmas season having lived another year, sometimes hard and other times gentle, but always void of expectation. Slowly, we restored traditions from before she died and formed new ones without her. I found myself creating time to sit in the stillness of this season, hopeful and gentle in knowing the Lamb would soon arrive. In these moments, stirrings I had imagined years before would flash glimpses in my heart as if to assure me my deepest desire for peace had not abandoned me but had tucked itself into the fissures of my broken heart. I had simply been looking in the wrong place.
My brave boy is now a brave man on adventures of his own. Just the other day, I found myself nestled into the chair where I meet my Lord God each morning. The sun had broken through the dawning day, its rays spotlighting the Christmas tree my brave one had helped me set up before he set off. Dripping with ornaments of seasons with and without Catherine, its white lights twinkled as if blowing heaven’s gentle kiss.
Cup steaming beside me, Bible open, I sighed in the realization: When I least expected it, I had arrived. And yet my arrival was not to a physical place, but to a state — a state of heart.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.