Advent in the mess

A couple years ago, with a new baby girl I was amazed at the mess Jesus was born into.  Not so much as a place except a animal feeder for mom to lay him down.  An unstable relationship, too young, political turmoil, lack of money all of it he was born into all of it.

And frankly it puts the hardships of the days around Christmas immediately into perspective.  Beloved children torturing each other, chronic crankiness, persistent dread and creeping panic about all that hasn’t been done and likely won’t get done.  And then real tragedies, like the death of children.  These tether any happiness, rein it in so as to not get too big.

And so then, where is the joy of this beautiful season?  It is still there, only it must be sought out.  Dwelled upon.

Here I could put up countless pictures of a couple girls who bring me joy daily, but there are other things too.

And because of one book, I have begun to count them daily, because it is important.  Important to not let the gravity grow too strong, why let the beauty go to waste while picking at what is?

wintery smelling air

a random backrub from a beloved

small toes

It is possible to see only the flaws, the faults the specks.  A miserable vigilance.  Cultivate instead,  the habit to see the beauty, relentlessly, vigilantly.  That is a different life, one that won’t be overcome by the ever present “lack”.

free concerts

warm winter clothes

random hugs from kids who just want to be near

It feels unnatural, contrived.  But it works.  They are there, those small beauties.  And if I name them relentlessly, I can live in their joy, rather than in the mess that is everywhere around me.

reading parties with excited little ones in snuggly soft blankets

warm coco

Just the memory of them can replace the memory of the fighting children, or the relentless laundry.

All the verses about Christmas, all the Christmas carols, all the pretty candles and lovely trees, all the *things* that are given and received seem empty in comparison with these small joys like gifts throughout the day.

eager students

silence and aloneness

grief and reconciliation

Even the ones that don’t seem so desirable get touched with something of the inevitable that somehow works them out to something beautiful.  Learning to thank God even for the mess, because in there are so many small treasures within the mess as well.

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