reconciling things

“Allow it all to happen: beauty and terror…” Rilke

Christmas will still come even if you don’t get all the cookies baked or gifts wrapped.

Christmas will still come even if you don’t send Christmas cards or get crafty with the kids.

It will still come if you would rather listen to Bo Burnham and not Bing Crosby.

It will come if you feel the wistful rather than the nostalgic side of remembering.

If Christmas comes with more baggage than presents, it will still come. If that terrific traffic from the song is actually people on guilt trips, Christmas will still arrive on time.

I was talking to a friend about my obvious lack of cheer this year and he comforted me saying said, ”You don’t have to have Christmas spirit, you know? It’s not a requirement to be a good Christian.”

The Incarnation changed everything. It imparted so many things—happy-slappy-glass-is-half-full Christianity was not one of them. Jesus came on the scene “in the fullness of time” (a phrase I love, because I feel like it means when all the pieces are in place and it is exactly the right time, things happen) when the world needed Him, but was perhaps not ready for him.

It is enough to go to Mass, worship, receive Jesus—present in the Eucharist into myself (the most intimate way we can experience Jesus), and to pray. Even if I do nothing else this Christmas, this would be enough. There are no requirements of sleigh bells or Christmas hams and you don’t have to invite Mariah Carey into your kitchen. Going through the motions is just going through the motions. If you are doing that, cut yourself some slack. You can only fake it ’til you make it so long. Light a candle and say your prayers. Drink your coffee and know that in the fullness of time, things happen—exactly when you need them, but maybe not when you are ready or when you think they will happen.

And don’t look at the future. Oh, for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus and all that is holy, don’t look at the future. New Year’s Resolutions and commitments for the months ahead can feel so overwhelming when you sense deep in your soul that all you can do is soldier on and wait. Wait for the fullness of time. My pastor tells me that I cannot live the next thirty years if I imagine myself in my bathrobe alone and aging. No one can offer their future, because it does not belong to us. One can only live today and offer the present moment. Pause, light a candle, say my prayers. The future will be what it will be and I will be what I can be. I will trust the Incarnation will change my reluctance to surrender and my “Oh wells” to Fiats. This is all there is.

Rilke’s Book of Pilgrimage

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