This past week we celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas. The kids awoke to see a few goodies in their shoes in the morning: new books! As we read each story, I was surprised that one in particular, seemed to be directed less at the kids, and more towards busy mamas in the midst of the hustle and bustle. I was caught with my guard down, and translated into a lump in my throat and a cracking voice. The boys always know when I’m about to cry at a story and react with a dramatic “come ON mom!” Fair enough. They just want a light-hearted tale, and I seem to always get choked up. This book hit me right in the heart, as it has a very Mary/Martha type lesson. It’s called “Baboushka” (saying the title alone is half the fun) and I came away with a renewed sense of focus on the purpose of the Christmas season. The gift is in focusing on family, on others, and less on my messy home and “preparing” for Christmas. Sometimes we just need to sit at the foot of the manger and BE. With Jesus. In all his radiance. To remember the night of his sacred, precious birth, being wreathed in flesh, that ushered forth the dawn of redeeming grace. The story of Jesus’ birth is wrapped in such rich imagery and awe, it should be no problem for us to reflect on the power of Christ’s birth and it’s impact on humankind, life and death. Yet, I confess that all too often I’m stressing about finances, our busy December schedule (and will there be enough weekends to finish my shopping, wrap the gifts, and mail the packages)? So, I look to Mary. How did SHE handle the few weeks leading up to the Lord’s birth? I love this reminder from writer John Lynch, and his poem “Wrapped in Silence”
Mary was a woman wrapped in silence. Her life was a contemplative response to the action of God in her soul. Our Advent is also meant to be wrapped in silence, enabling us to respond to God’s love with openness.
Jesus, in the womb of Mary, was also wrapped in silence. His divinity was clothed in human flesh, given to him from the genetic material of his mother Mary. As an unborn child, Jesus lay in the silence of Mary’s womb, awaiting the moment of his birth.
I pulled this excerpt from a wonderful blog post I recently read about implementing silence into our Advent.
Appreciating the example of Mary and hoping to take a cue from her: silence, trust, and peace this Christmas. Mary, Sweet Mary.
1 Corinthians 13 – a Christmas Version (via email. source unknown)
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.