Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Long, Fierce Lament

A restless night last night. Kept turning things over in my mind. My comprehensive exams are beginning to press. When I wasn't thinking about them, I was thinking about stuff at church. And when that wasn't the case, I would turn over Christmas plans. Finally, around 4 in the morning, I took out my book and began reading, until I drifted back to sleep again. It's left me feeling vaguely unsettled today.

It is always a balance thing, especially with so many pieces to look after--the academic, church, and home. And each of those made up of numerous things themselves. When things get off balance, everything wobbles. Like an old vinyl record that's gotten warped. I watch it go 'round in a gentle wave, distorting sound. It's a feeling of unease.

Sunday was a beautiful day. The choir had the lead in the service. And their music was a real gift. The words of the music came to life this year, as I looked on what remained of our creche. I became aware that I am yearning for joy now. The hard realities represented by our creche have taken root in me. And I find my soul wants to fly.

Advent has been a long, fierce lament this year. And I feel the urging of the lament to turn to praise, as it so often does. On Sunday, as the choir sang, that juxtaposition of lament and praise was made vibrant. No gentle transition here. Heartache. Gladness.

Last night as D and I talked over dinner, I finally saw something about the creche for the first time. D was telling me how he felt as though we had created something true, not something 'edgy,' as we've fondly started referring to the creche. "What I see in that creche is all of the offense of the original birth. And that's what I feel like the important thing is. It's not whether it will turn off visitors from coming back; it's not about pushing the boundaries; it's not about forgetting tradition. It's a radical representation of a most radical event."

During Sunday school, as we reflected together on our experiences of the creche, someone asked D: "Do you see hope when you look at that scene, then?" And he said he didn't yet. And I would have answered the same way. No hope yet, no.

But last night at dinner, we saw it. We're not waiting for hope to present itself to that scene. The hope is already present. The hope is precisely that this is the very place God is incarnate. I've been so close to seeing it before, but never quite did. God is in this place. God is in this place.

. . . Tonight we will get to celebrate Christmas with S before she leaves tomorrow. We'll enjoy a good dinner and exchange gifts. Then D will be off for his first-ever Roller Hockey game! This is suddenly a new passion for him that we're all quite excited about. He played lots of hockey as a kid. But it's been years. Last week, as he prepared to visit the rink for the first time, we joked about what he should say to folks when he got there: "I used to play hockey a lot as a kid. But I got away from it as a young adult. And it's been years, now, since I've played. Then I had a child, and I wanted him to know about hockey. So I thought I should find a place and get involved again . . ." And the angels were rejoicing in heaven.

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