I’ve had a hard time getting into Christmas this year. The whole routine seems like the same thing over and over again: lights, presents, songs, candy. Giving money to charity and never knowing whether or not it makes a difference. I’ve also been affected by current affairs, and the attitudes many people have toward refugees. I just feel sort of hopeless.
This year there were two massive floods in my city in which lots of people lost their homes. I was fortunate not to be among them, but I can’t help thinking about those families. Maybe home is only an idea, and is always temporary, in spite of our best efforts.
This year, the story of Mary traveling to participate in a census during the late months of her pregnancy is what really strikes me about the Christmas story. I can relate to that. Not the pregnancy, but feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable and homesick. Earlier this year I stopped going to church, leaving a kind of home. But as someone who’s also fled an abusive home, and lost another home to Hurricane Katrina, I know the fear and frustration at feeling like my life is being manipulated by outside forces.
More than ever before, I’m faced with the idea that my spiritual journey has no real and final destination. I’m a Seeker, eternally questing. A Four on the Enneagram. After resting for a while, I’m on the move again, and I just have to make peace with this aspect of my personality. Sometimes the journey seems exciting and filled with possibility. But a lot of the time I just feel…displaced.
If the Christmas Story is just something that happened 2000 years ago, or if it’s just a fable, it’s empty for me. I can’t be touched by something so far removed.
What I’m left clinging to this Christmas is the idea of incarnation. Not that God came to man once upon a time, but that such things might still happen, and still do happen, privately and unexpectedly, while the rest of the world is sleeping. That the Holy Spirit might choose anyone for Its partner, at any time. That at any moment, the silent sky might explode with angel-song. That the journey each of us undertakes, no matter how tiring or troublesome, has a purpose, and is part of a larger design.