This Day Marks a Beginning
Part of why this is for me, is I dislike the headlong, breathless rush of one thing into the next thing, with no room in between to pause and reflect. In the liturgical church, there is found within the comforting (and yes, some would say "mind numbing") continuity and ritual, a built-in opportunity to pause and prepare.
I'm not at all an advocate of liturgical church. But I do believe there are truths to be gleaned and gained from liturgy - centuries of spiritual practices cannot be glibly dismissed as having nothing to say to us.
Here is what I am getting at, and it really is as pragmatic as this: Are there any loose ends in your celebration of Christmas? Have you, like me, gotten to the evening of December 25 with something (or some things) undone?
I have. And since I love you, and since I'm wired that way, here's a bit of full disclosure:
I haven't yet watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
I never did truly decorate my fireplace mantel. I stacked prettily wrapped presents on it, and pretended I did it all on purpose. No, wait. Actually, Hannah arranged the presents on the mantel for me, I didn't even do that part.
Christmas cards never made it out this year. Never even bought 'em.
There are significant things I've left (as yet) unsaid - letters of encouragement to be written, verbal expressions of thanks, words of love not yet communicated. I've felt these things, oh-so-deeply, but two or three people still don't know how I feel, and this is the perfect season to let them know.
I haven't stopped to feel the quiet mystery. Not yet.
I still have a Christmas package to put in the mail.
I only made one batch of Ginger Snap cookies. And I never even iced them.
And I still have not gone back to that department store, to pray with the cashier who tearfully told me that she'd buried her grown daughter shortly after Thanksgiving. (Three times in the past month, total strangers have swung wide the door of their heart to me in ways I knew were supernatural. I need to go back to the one door I didn't walk through. And I will. I know right where to find her.)
If you are anything like me, you don't feel like this Christmas is ready to be packed away, just yet. It isn't quite "one for the history books". It feels not finished.
Maybe its as simple as you haven't sat down to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" yet. Maybe its as complicated as you haven't let someone know that you are sorry and you miss their smile.
There is still time.
In the liturgical church, the Christmas season is sort of just beginning. You have twelve more days, between sundown December 25th, and sundown January 6th, to bake cookies, reconcile relationships, watch that movie, or knit that scarf.
Let's lengthen the time we celebrate. Let's not try to cram it all in precisely between the first Sunday of Advent (late November) and December 25th.
Breathe deeply. Find the mystery of life lived at perfect peace between being okay with the girl you are, and reaching for the girl you want to be. (Hint: GRACE.)
Remember - even the days themselves are now lengthening. Ever since December 21st, you have been getting moments more daylight, followed by moments more - with each passing day, your days are lengthening.
There's yet time for the important things. There's always time for the important things. Begin your celebration of Christmas tonight. Though I am not liturgical myself (except privately) I - and centuries of church tradition - give you permission.