For now we see through a glass, darkly;
face to face:
now I know in part;
but then shall I know
even as - also -
I am known.
Yesterday, my two children flew across the world to spend their first Christmas away from me/with their father.
We got through the airport. Got through in both the physical and metaphorical sense. My twelve year old with eyes brimming checking the angles to see if anyone was watching this poignant, heroic, moment of farewell. We giggled at ourselves, and through they went.
It is an oddly weightless feeling to be without your children at Christmas. To be without anyone, in fact. Not at all a tragic feeling, just a slightly bizarre one.
All my Christmas activities have been accomplished. Father Christmas cannot land early (so I was off the hook in the stocking department) but we had our full-on Christmas meal (plus requisite soup the following night), opened presents (as is our wont) over several days, sang Christmas songs and watched favourite Christmas movies, wrote Christmas cards and even managed to send Christmas packages by filial courier to the other side of the globe. I'm done! All finished! And it's not yet even the week before Christmas.
I find myself being still. There are loads of things I could be doing, but what might happen if I choose not to do them? If I choose stillness. Quiet. Solitude.
Devotionals have been extraordinarily on point for me in recent weeks and this was today's:
'Muddy water becomes clear only if we let it be still for a while.' Dallas Willard.
I feel very excited about being still. Never usually alone in human terms, I could actually spend Christmas with Jesus this year. Present, interactive, truly grateful, quiet.
As the water clears, whom might I discover myself to be? Who might show up? The last time I had the leisure to ask this question was probably 20 years ago. "Who am I?" I asked myself then. "And what do I want to do now?"
Over the next two weeks, the opportunity is there for me to ponder everything from the right side and not the back side. I often howl with friends about looking life's backside square in the face on a daily basis, but it is also truly the back side isn't it? We can only see things from a temporal point of view.
And maybe it looks drab, or weird, or hopeless, or limited. But we are only seeing it now from our own vantage point.
If I spend time with Jesus - listening to Him, chatting with Him, chewing the fat with Him - I might get a clearer view of my life journey from His perspective instead of my own. Look at it in His light, His warmth, His truth, regarding His eternal values. Not just these current, common circumstances.
So, as much as I'll miss my children, I recognise the astonishing gift of time and space I've been given. In a season where usually these things come in minimal supply.
I want to see my life more clearly from Jesus' point of view. To do that, and because my kids are away, I'll get to take time with Him until 'the things of this world grow strangely dim'. To ponder Advent itself, and this Advent in particular. Christmas too.
To see things about the daily rush that often, perhaps, I cannot spot for want of looking.
I'll finish with this very favourite text for Christmas. A letter, written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo to his friend, Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi, on Christmas Eve, 1513.
'There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!'
I beseech you too - along with myself! - to look.
Happy Christmas one and all,