Joy and wonder.
That is what I feel this Christmas. I gave up on this holiday for many years. I was tired of expectations and disappointments, disgusted by consumerism. I felt cynical and unsettled, jaded by “the true meaning of Christmas.”
Then I spent one crazy Christmas in the jungle of Panama, and while riding on “Los diablos rojas,” (the appropriate nickname for the public buses) I watched an enormous hulk-of-a-man in a seat nearby lovingly cradle a tiny newborn. The fragility and helplessness of the baby, especially in comparison to his father’s strength, unlocked something inside of me, and in that moment, thousands of miles from home, I realized anew what God had done.
This year, two days before Christmas I lay on a table in the midwife clinic and listened for the sound of my child’s heartbeat.
I’ve never heard a more beautiful rhythm.
It came fast, as my tears fell in unison to the beat, and I knew that despite all the amazing moments I’ve had these 28 years, nothing in my life has mattered compared to this.
I’ve spent a lot of time overthinking and over complicating everything. I’ve been trapped inside my head for so long, it’s hard to see the light sometimes.
But there it is.
In the movie “Children of Men” the world is dark and dystopian, hopeless and violent. A disease has rendered the entire population unable to conceive and the result is suicide kits and chaos. Then a miracle happens. A baby is born. This child is taken to safety but first he has to go through a treacherous war zone. It seems like all is lost, but at the sound of the infant’s cry, the fighting stops. Guns fall to the ground as weary men stand in silent and in awe of this baby, the first they’ve seen in decades.
I think of that young girl in Bethlehem, generations ago, laying in a dirty barn, her swelling body ready to give the world the one thing they needed, and the last thing they expected.
We are reminded, not just every year in the telling of The Story and the giving of gifts, but in the tiny and spectacular moments in life where the fog of confusion and doubt dissipate and all at once we know,
This is why we are here.
In the beating of a new heart, the crying of a newborn, life continuing and moving forward, the hope and potential of future generations:
To be better then we were.
To understand Love and live it.
To tell The Story with greater passion and creativity.
In that dirty bus on a rambling, bumpy road in Panama, I understood for a tiny second that the most powerful force in all of time and space put himself inside the vulnerable space of a human baby, in order to be with us.
To be one with us.
And now that life in me is growing and I know, nothing will ever be the same.
And hate and hopelessness fall to the ground as weary men and women put down their weapons and stand in awe before the hope of the world.