Sleeping Christmas: A peek into the way of a Baptist mystic
|A Thoughtograph from Diane|
It is time to sleep Christmas.
Today is Epiphany, the time in the church calendar that marks when the first outsiders discovered Jesus. It seems a bit off to sleep the Christmas decorations just when the world first gets Christmas, but they have been up a while now at my house.
In a compromise of childhood evangelical tradition and adult progressive practice, I don't put up a tree on Thanksgiving any more. (I know. It was crazy.) I wait until some inner thing calls to me, usually around mid-December. I also work around my disabled body and scale back the decorations a little more every year. I tell myself I am simplifying, not compromising.
I do love the liturgical year and how it cycles around with the seasons, my body's ups and downs, and, frankly, my psychological well-being. In a home that keeps the calendar, Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas. Sometime during Advent, I awaken the anticipation of Christmas in my home and myself. Watching, waiting, preparing.
My church puts up Advent banners that we have created over the years, and we put out a little Charlie Brown tree that inspires a kind of love in me like a mom has for her outlier child. At home this year, I put up a tiny little Charlie Brown tree of my own with some of those battery-operated copper wire lights. It was easier and made me just as happy. (I should tell you here that I have downsized trees three times since we built this house, which I loved because it could handle a huge tree. The house could... I can't.)
For the ornaments on the tiny tree, I put out the Starbucks cups, because coffee, and two candy cane reindeer that I redo every year. What? I don't worship the tree, after all. I do have a teeny tiny manger scene, and Jesus -- a tiny cotton bud in a half pistachio shell -- doesn't show up until Christmas. The Wise Men came today -- behold, wise men from the East.
So the world showed up to recognize the Christ Child, and it's now time to sleep Christmas.
It's the liturgical season of Epiphany now. I haven't developed any personal attachment to Epiphany. I am woefully uneducated as to its particular wonders and ways. I should spend the time finding out what I have been missing. Maybe it will inspire me like Advent and my favorite time, Lent.
Lent comes right after Epiphany, this year with the most awkward minor holidays bracketing this most holy of times. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday/St. Valentine's Day and ends on Easter/April Fools' Day. With St. Patrick always coming in Lent -- "Is it a feast day or not?"-- things are getting eccentric, AKA mystic.
Weird or not, I will still fast something and take on another thing as a sacrifice and an offering. If Advent and Christmas delight, Lent grounds me, puts me in a correct relationship as a follower of Christ, who asks nothing other than love and offers the same. This love is a pure thing, harder than it sounds and easier too. Paradoxes abound in the way of the Christ. You get accustomed to them.
Easter, now that's a paradox right there. My dead Lord is not dead, here with me but not present, human and God. I imagined writing this as though outsiders were my audience. I am pretty sure I lost them with that. If you are an eccentric Lent-loving mystic and still with me, you know what I mean.
So I need to wrap up. Sleeping Christmas. Honestly, I always said killing Christmas, in an I've been a Christian since age 5, so I can do a little sacrilege in my own home, I'm cool like that way. But when I thought about putting that as a title, I chickened out. Not as cool as all that, apparently. Besides, it isn't a good literary device. That's really why. Uncool and a word nerd.
It turns out that all this is still being a lesson for me, this sharing of my mystic path. I am indeed sleeping the trappings of Christmas and letting them slumber while I walk the path of Christ in this liturgical year and hang out in interminably long Ordinary Time, which deserves its own essay.
As sure as Paul loves Timothy, some day in mid-December 2018, I will feel the pull and break out the medium tree or the tiny Charlie Brown one, but almost certainly not the super big one that was always ridiculous. I will put out the wreaths and stockings and the doorway lights that come on at dusk and twinkle.
Candy in the decorated jars. Starbucks cups and candy cane reindeer.
Tiny cotton bud Jesus in his half pistachio shell will hide behind something and the 3 Wise Men will start out on the other side of the room. Outsiders, seeking the Christ Child, kind of like me, new to this Christian mystic thing and totally smitten with that baby.