The tired Christmas lights wink at us on our way out the door and I understand. The boys are grumpy because it’s their first day back to school in a week and it’s 14 degrees outside. I’m a little grumpy too.
“Why does school have to be so early?” Jeffrey moans from the back seat. He is counting the vices of our educational system.
“It rips families apart,” he says dramatically. “It wakes us up unnaturally. And it kills trees. See? Something must be done.”
I nod sympathetically into my coffee cup as I maneuver through morning traffic–think again of some of the warmer advantages of homeschooling…
But we soldier on.
After the boys are dropped and I’m alone in the car I start to talk to God, wonder aloud about how things might have been. On mornings like this I feel all the ache of the lost opportunities.
“I wish, Lord, I wish…”
But I don’t know what to wish for; I don’t know what to say. So I turn the music up and get lost in the local scene.
And I think about it now and I know that I have too many wishes to express. I wish I’d started out different, discovered this love for words earlier and fostered it. I wish I’d gone to seminary or studied theology. I wish I could share faith talk with my mom and dad and brothers and sisters—wish they knew this deep love in me. I wish my husband had been saved sooner and we had raised the boys rooted in faith together instead of all that struggling I did alone in the early years. I wish…I wish it felt whole to be right where I am.
And right in the middle of the wish-fest, from right where I’m sitting, I catch sight of one of those wise men. He’s peeking out at me from behind a berry wreath on the table and the sight of him stops me cold.
It’s a game we play with the nativity in our house and I shared about it in my sermon on Sunday. It’s tradition in our home to hide those wise guys from our nativity set throughout the house during our Christmas waiting. Whoever finds one—well, it’s his or her duty to hide him again. The trick to the game is to find a clever spot, one in which the wise man will be discovered in a surprising way—sort of a hiding in plain sight. Imagine the surprise when one goes to don a shoe and finds a wise man inside. Or, when turning in for the night, noticing there is a hard lumpy magi under the pillow. The goal, you see, is for the wise men to be found; it wouldn’t do for them to stay hidden. They’re on a journey—looking for the Christ-child.
The game goes on after Christmas—the wise men wander on for the 12 days of Christmas—which start on Christmas day and end at Epiphany, or January 6. Epiphany is the day we celebrate the Magi’s discovery and worship of the Christ. Last Sunday–when I delivered my first sermon–was Epiphany Sunday. So I preached on this very thing.
The point of my sermon was that this whole faith thing is a long journey. We wander, just like the magi. And the long journey is part of the gift we give him.
So. I’m sitting here in the middle of the wish-fest and I start to consider my journey. Which is not a bad thing to do at the start of a new year, I guess. And I start to feel a little more “at home” in my humanity.
Mine hasn’t been the prettiest of journeys. But neither was the journey to the Cross. And there is something oh, so beautiful—more beautiful than my mind can conceive—in that.
In this post, Mary DeMuth opened my mind to finding a picture that might be a glimpse for me of the new year. As I ponder the journey that has brought me this far, there is no one word that names it. But a picture? Just maybe. Here is the one that has been singing into me.
It’s one of the photos I took when our family was at the sea for Thanksgiving. Every morning, I was up before the sun. What a wonderful gift to celebrate the first ray of light to fall into the ocean. I’ve never felt such peace–such joy to be in my own skin. And yet…the sound of the wave crashing on the shore reminded me that I am not alone; that there is a Power in heaven so great and awe-inspiring. There is such freedom in that.
I’m going to be carrying this image of God with me throughout the year. And because I am on this great journey, I needn’t worry if it’s enough. I needn’t wish a different path that brought me thus far…
I’m not there yet.
With my sweet friend Jennifer today: