Christmas is a time that invites nostalgia.
These thoughts come from a Christmas past, shortly after my return to the Faith.
One of the blessings of having reached a certain age is the ability to look back at the many twists and turns of one’s life. At this holy season of Christmas and especially on this holy day celebrating Christ’s birth, a number of memories fill my mind.
I see myself in a classroom, dressed as an angel – complete with halo – waiting to be called to sing onstage for the grand finale of the Christmas pageant. I fast forward many years to a time where I am directing my four children in decorating Christmas stockings that I’ve sewn. They each choose a liturgical scene appropriate to the season. Or I’m in the kitchen with trays of cut-out cookies that my children “paint” with colored egg yolk. Or I’m in the living room, fragrant with fresh pine, filled with the happy mess of toys.
But none of these Christmases has had the joy of the feast this year.
Many Christmases were spent in distress, in spiritual and personal trials, while love – true love that is of God – eluded me. Nothing is so empty as the heart that has lost God.
But God does not want to remain lost. In spite of ourselves, he gently pursues us, woos us, seduces us, and sweetly captures us at last.
This year, I have been tutored in the spiritual joys of the holiday. This year, I have been given a deeper grasp of the marvel of Christmas: the gift of Christ Himself.
Christ who came to teach us what true happiness consists of.
Christ in whom all good things exist in a visible, tangible way.
Christ in whom all things were made, and to whom all things ultimately tend.
Christ. The one Word that speaks all to us.
The one Word that contains all that is good:
love, holiness, mercy, compassion, generosity,
forgiveness, kindness, enlightenment, joy, wisdom,
and yet more love.
And the greatest marvel of all is that he did not come just once at a moment in history that is forever gone. He comes in an unending presence to fill and transform our spirits and, through us, to fill and transform the world. He will never again be absent from our life. While we await a second coming, he is nevertheless here.
Gallery of Photos taken in the Holy Land.