Preserving a Moment
It’s the first Sunday of the Christmas season. The tree that only a few days ago grew from soil made of presents again grows from the Christmas stand. Presents are now new possessions. The wrapping paper has long gone with this week’s garbage. The turkey has been consumed with last week’s sandwiches. For a moment, the magical dust of Christmas glittered on the cheeks of humanity. The world forgot for a moment our compulsion with winning, wooing and warring. For a moment we put away our ladders and ledgers, we hung up our stopwatches and weapons. We stepped off our race tracks and roller coasters and looked outward toward the star of Bethlehem.
The result? Those who pass the rest of the year without seeing him, for a brief moment, beheld him. People who have been accustomed to using his name in vain, paused and used it in praise and sang, “Oh come let us adore him.” For a few precious hours in the year our heavenly yearnings intermeshed and we became a chorus. A ragtag chorus of those who work on the boats, of Bloor Street lawyers, illegal immigrants and a thousand other peculiar persons, banked on the fact that Bethlehem’s mystery is real, and sang in praise.
The result? For a moment in time the spirit of Christ is everywhere. It’s found in the grin of the policeman as he drives the paddy wagon full of presents to the orphanage. In the emotion of the father who is too thankful to finish the dinner table prayers. In the heart of the man who spends Christmas morning on skid row giving away cold baloney sandwiches and warm wishes.
I suspect that in this week following the first Sunday in Christmas, the clean-up will continue. Lights will start to come down, trees will either be thrown out or put back into their boxes. The size 36 will be exchanged for size 40, eggnog will be on sale for half price. December’s generosity will become January’s payments and the magic will begin to fade. Because, well, after all, we’ll all have to return to work soon, return to our routines, and life will become what it once was. But for this moment, the magic is still in the air and I pray that those who beheld him but a few days ago, will look for him next August. That we will not be amazed when we look, that we find the child still in the temple going about his Father’s business. I can’t help but linger on this fanciful thought: If God can do so much, will such timid prayers lamely offered in December, how much more could God do if we thought of the Christ-child every day? It is not over, this birthing. There are always newer skies into which God can throw stars.