The poverty of Christmas

I took a walk downtown Seattle at noon today. It is Christmas Eve. I have been feeling a bit broken, in need of some mending. I was hoping for words, smiles, dancing children, a street musician or two, maybe a cute dog.

And I found some of these. But they brought me no comfort.

Blessed are the poor.

So I started looking in the eye as many people as I could do so comfortably. I watched their faces, observed the shape of their cheeks, whether they had facial hair, and especially the color of their eyes. I looked for some spark in them that would remind me that what matters most. I guess I was looking for God.

Portrait-of-Homeless-Man-IMG_3825I passed shoppers, coffee drinkers, people in Santa hats, and many homeless people. I looked them all in the eye. The only ones who smiled and talked to me? The most marginalized.

Blessed are the Poor.

I am not china or crystal – I am not that beautiful or fragile. Today I feel like a clay bowl: rough, grooved and a bit crude, empty, and with potential to crumble into chunks if the wrong person drops me.

I suppose some days are like that.

But it is Christmas Eve. I’d like it to be different. I’d like my children to WANT to come to church with me. I’d like strained relationships to feel nurturing and mutually supportive. I’d like some dear people I know to be well and happy. I’d like all of those beautiful children killed in Newtown to magically appear in their beds on Christmas morning. I’d like people to believe that peace is truly possible. And, I’d like to sense the loving arms of God rocking me tenderly.

Blessed are the poor.

Tonight I will be part of a service I helped plan. There will be carols and children and candles and people of all flavors making their way to the manger. They come for various reasons, but mostly they come to consider the possibility that God actually gives a damn; that there is a creator of all of this beauty and craziness who emptied out her bowl and saw it fall to the earth and break open in the cry of a baby.

Perhaps Christmas is about recognizing our poverty. I know this is not what we have been seeing on those Macy’s and Hallmark commercials. But consumerism gulps down everything in it’s path. Even faith. And art. And beauty.

Whatever Christmas means, I guess today I stand in solidarity with my own broken bowl. And I will try to hold it gently, with the care and strength of a wise, nurturing mama. I hope you can do the same for yourself. If you can’t, I will try to carry yours too.

Blessed are the Poor.

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2 Responses to The poverty of Christmas

  1. Jenny P says:

    My moment of God is still alive and kickin’ came on Christmas Eve. I had the children hold the baby Jesus (a doll with a mirror over its face–yes cheesy, but a wonderful moment with young children). As my five year old daughter very seriously positioned herself and held out her arms, a smile of delight came over her face when she saw herself in the mirror. I asked, “Who do you see?” She almost giggled, “Me!” A seven year old boy (not my own) had a similar experience. Seeing the love of God born in each of those children that night confirmed my need to spread God’s love more fervently to any heart that is open and yearning for it.

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