Sometimes I think the buildup to Christmas is not only a nuisance but a detriment. The weeks leading up to Dec. 25 are so much hustle and bustle — buying gifts, wrapping gifts, writing Christmas cards, decorating, baking — that I think we forget for a while how to slow down.
When the big day finally arrives, we are so programmed to keep moving and keep doing that we don’t know how to sit and simply absorb the joy.
A Facebook friend of mine posted that after so much wrapping and baking and so on, she felt like making another batch of cookies today. I wished for her a moment to simply absorb.
Part of my email moniker includes “mindful.” Being mindful — fully aware of the present moment — is more of a Buddhist concept than a Christian one, but it applies to many characters in the Christmas story. Zechariah is made silent when he is told by an angel that his wife will become pregnant with a baby who is to become John the Baptist. God’s message, put crassly, may have been “Shut up and sit down.” And his did, until his son was born.
The shepherds, who worked shifts like policemen filled with long, boring hours of desert doughnuts and occasional high-speed chases with blood-thirty wolfs, were just hanging with their flocks enjoying the starry sky that quiet night.
Mary, the teenage mother who ends up giving birth after a long journey in a barn and is surprised by a passel of shepherds who show up uninvited (at least by her), keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She simply absorbed the awesome moment.
I will try to do as Mary did this weekend, and I wish it for you, too. Forget about the unwritten cards (like me) and the unbaked cookies (like my Facebook friend). Take a walk to admire the Christmas lights with a loved one. Relax and savor the Christmas card. Open the gifts one by one. Look into a loved one’s eyes. Spend a few minutes at church enjoying the flickering candles. Soak in the holiday music.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”