I stood there in the middle of my room, untangling Christmas lights. I had been home barely five minutes. It’s raining outside and I have a paper to write, but suddenly all I wanted were nails in the corners of my wall and 100 little bulbs glowing.
I catch myself humming the melody for “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and I stop. I’ve resented Christmas music my whole life, railed against, resented, barely tolerated it. But tonight is different. With the click of a button my room is filled with the melody for “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
It’s been a long day full of paper-writing. I paid bills. I waited for emails about jobs. I trudged through the grocery store, ate two salads and buried my head in the GRE book on the train ride home. Steps from my door, I sighed, wearied by all the things I had done and the things I have left to do. I opened the door and picked my way upstairs. I threw groceries in the cupboard and turned for my room where I found sweats and my box of lights. I held them now, watching them tumble onto my bed.
“O come let us adore Him…”
Suddenly, I stood there unable to move, listening to this familiar melody come alive and fill the room with a soft amber light. Out my window, I could barely see the dark streets of Brooklyn past a torrent of sudden tears. I was just on those streets counting dollars in my head, worrying about mom’s visit and Christmas gifts. But in an instant that faded away. You are not alone. My room had somehow become this sacred place of assurance. You are not alone.
And I understood. Christmas is joy at the end of long days in Manhattan. It’s grace for the letters I didn’t mail and the phone calls I avoided making. It’s hope smothering the voices of worry and uncertainty that run laps in my head. It’s a loud and obnoxious and wonderful no to me wondering if I will accidentally use up God’s love like face lotion. Yes, life is full of shadows. Yes, sometimes waking and thinking and feeling seems like a slow dance across a sheet of black ice.
But God is not put off by my/our questions, our battles or our clumsy dance moves. He is drawn to our swirling, heavy, nervous minds. He is close to the anxious-hearted. He is full of mercy for the wandering eyes. He sees us with our unfinished tasks, our unconfessed sins, our mumbled prayers, tattered budgets and He holds us. Like a father, He showers us with simple questions like, how did you sleep? And promises like, you know I’m not going anywhere. And provision like, here is tissue for the mascara running down your face.
Life is dancing, running and pushing. My mind might get tired. There may be ice and fire and dragons on the road up ahead. The world is full of shadows, floor traps and surprise bills. But for now and always, in Brooklyn and in all the world, He will be Emmanuel, God with us.