By David R. Brock
A young woman is talking with her family on the phone about how much she wishes they could be together at Christmas, how sorry she is that they will be apart. Her mother asks if she has received her gifts. She says, ‘not yet.’ Her mother asks her if she has looked outside. She goes to the door and opens it to find mom and dad and brothers and sisters all there warmly bundled against the cold and the snow, arms filled with gifts and her mom holding a cell phone. Together as family. A surprise at Christmas. What else could she hope for?
It’s a little too good to be true, I know, but a commercial like that gets us, doesn’t it? The prospect of being alone, distant from the ones who matter most, during the holidays, then totally unexpected, too good to be true, we open the door and all we have been longing for is there before our eyes—the gifts, the family, the fresh fallen snow. The house is too clean; too Martha Stewart. The girl too beautiful and thin. The family too Ozzie and Harriet. The weather too Christmas perfect, the cell phone too clear, and the music a little too bright, but it tugs at something, this sense of yearning and longing for connection, for community, for love, for Shalom. A little too Currier and Ives or Thomas Kincaid, but it feels good and right and it, as those cunning advertisers know, moves us. It is, I’ll risk saying, a secular expression of our longing for the sacred. The utter joy of the longed for, but unexpected gift. The pony in the barn. The shiny bicycle on the porch. The diamond. The doll that cries and the joy of the parent who sees their child’s eyes open wide and sparkle and shine with wonder. The totally unexpected, too good to be true is suddenly surprisingly reality and the joy and hope of Christmas is captured in the opening of a door.
Spiritual Practice: Imagine a door in your soul opening to reveal the “unexpected, too good to be true”, surprising reality of the sacred in your life, in the world. What would be revealed as you discover your deepest longings this Advent season?