Friday, December 21, 2012

Driving Away the Darkness

O Come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

It looks so stormy from where I am.

Not just because of this massive winter storm bearing down on us, and the grey, rainy weather that preceded it. But also because of the violence I see in the world.  The most obvious example of this is the senseless violence of the Sandy Hook tragedy. But long before that, I could see the effects of the violence of the culture in the things that people say to each other every day.

People say horrible things to each other in online discussions and are openly hostile in person. Road rage and lack of common decency belie the fact that we have lost the value and dignity of each human life. Other people, like the slower driver in front of you, the customer service rep who's just trying to do her job, a unplanned child, are viewed as an inconvenience and a blockage to getting what we want.

Even in my own family, horrible things have been said and done by people loudly professing to be Christian. But to add insult to injury, not only have we damaged ourselves by our anger, we have damaged our mother, who said to a friend, "My family is broken and I don't know if it can be fixed."

As Christmas is quickly approaching, the darkness and gloom has weighed more and more on me. Did I do everything I could to heal the rift? Did I do something I should not have done that brought it about? Truthfully, my acid tongue could use a little a lot of work. But did I break the family all by myself?

Mom sits in her robe at the head of her kitchen table reading her Kindle almost all day. The Christmas decorations remained in the basement all December long. And when I asked about the tree, she said, "I don't really care about putting up a tree. No one is coming anyway." Her heart is broken and I cannot fix it alone.

Yesterday, I decided it was time.

I made my father haul out the boxes. I enlisted my daughter and husband and we put up the tree. The light from the tree brightened up the darkest corner of the living room and brought light and color to the whole house. I turned on all the Christmas music that I love and thought of the joy that Jesus brings to us by His coming as man to share in our humanity. That frail, flawed, selfishness that he sanctified; banishing the darkness from the soul and shedding his Holy grace-filled light on our broken hearts.

When Mom arrived home from choir, the tree was finished (well, except for the tree topper) and the light on her face when she saw it was all the Christmas I will need this year. I just wanted to see my mom smile.

Jesus waits for each one of us to look to the Light of His grace to be healed of our imperfections. Healing takes time, even with spiritual healing, and sometimes it's even painful and humbling. To be whole, we must not be afraid to be wrong. We must not be afraid to suffer. We must not be afraid to keep trying when we fall. And we must ask for a hand up when we need one.

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