West Virginia Morning: Christmas Eve


On Christmas Eve’s eve we sat together on the couch and watched some of our favorite holiday classics. There was The Grinch, and Rudolph, and Charlie Brown to keep us company. We’ve done this since the boys were small, usually earlier in the season to build the excitement. But every year the showing comes later and later, seeming to stretch out with each inch added to their height. As boys grow, so do their personal calendars and family time becomes a rare gift to be savored.

But I kept falling asleep in my place on the edge of the couch. There is a lot of flu going around here and I worried perhaps I was coming down with something. So I went to bed early without kissing anyone and Bonnie joined me and we snuggled in deep for a long winter’s nap.

So, on Christmas Eve’s morn, what do I do? I rise early, with nothing more than a slight morning sniffle, to get more work done, creep out of bed in the dark and sit with some last minute editing to meet a deadline. And I don’t mind it, really, I don’t. This lover of words could drown in a sea of them and be happy. But when I’ve done all I can do, I pick up that book on Sabbath I’ve been reading on the lonely mornings, the one that has become my favorite. And Wayne Muller says this, “Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop—because our work is never completely done. … If we refuse to rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from our need to be finished.”

I sat there fingering that page, aware of all the work that is undone, and felt a loneliness so deep. Such a longing welled up inside of me for something unknown. I wanted rest, I wanted beauty, I wanted hands on my body and poetry in my ears. I wanted paradise and wholeness and the love that never fails.

So I did what I always do when eternity woos me this way, I went outside. The earth was just waking up to birdsong, her thirst quenched by the showers that passed through last night; everything gray and damp and dripping with baubles of light. It smelled like spring, like new life and I marveled at the ways of creation once again. The newspaper tells me we might break the record today for warm temperatures on Christmas Eve. The record temperature for this day is 73 degrees, set in 1964—before I was even born. I stand outside with only a light jacket, breathing in new life and it hits me.

This is the season of new life. Isn’t this Christmas? Hope took on flesh and suckled at the breast of a woman. Hope came in the most impossible of all ways, in the helpless form of a babe. And isn’t it God’s way to come in the most unusual of ways, the most unexpected? Isn’t this what I believe when I light the Christmas tree, when I sing the carol, when I open the gift?

God came down. It’s impossible to grasp and I will never convince my unbelieving friends of this story that is next to lunacy. Because love rarely makes sense, love rarely comes in the ways we expect it to, Love cannot be explained in words.

And so this lover of words sets them aside for a time this morning. She gives herself fully to the surrender. And for a brief moment, one tiny millisecond, eternity floods her heart and that loneliness is filled.

And it is enough. It is enough for now.


  1. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, I surely pray you are better and that you are feeling fine now and will be able to enjoy Christmas Eve services and a special time with your family tomorrow. I have not been able to finish watching one Holiday movie. I just get so mesmerized somehow, and my eyelids grow heavy. At least I have seen them a gazilliion times before, and I know the ending. And we all know the ending, don’t we? Because Jesus came, as that vulnerable baby, and because He will come again, He’ll set to right all that is wroing, and we will enjoy eternal morning in His presence. I love reading how God often uses your “nature walks” to refresh your spirit. May you find Him especially palpable this Christmas. I am so grateful to God for connecting us. You, yourself, are my Christmas present.

  2. Laurie Whin says

    thank you for sharing the beautiful picture of the deep longing of your heart, and also the meaning of Christmas. Yes, it is all about the gift of new life! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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