“I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.”
It is two days before Christmas and I’m watching flakes gently falling. Outside, all is quiet, limbs limp beneath a covering of snow, the pine tree a portrait of tatted lace. Gentle music flows wistful beneath the hot breath of orange cranberry bread cooling in the kitchen.
Tonight, we will snuggle in front of the Christmas tree, watching a movie by firelight and nibbling cheese. Tomorrow, a morning trip to market just to enjoy the energy, then a church service in the evening. Perhaps a bit of revelry.
There are three simple gifts beneath the tree – one for each of the special people I will be spending Christmas with. That, and our stocking stuffers (my favourite), will be enough.
Like many others, I have reclaimed my Christmas as a season of peace. A season of giving presence, not presents.
I recall Callie’s final months, when the only thing she wanted was to be with her people. She would lie where she could watch both of us at the same time. She no longer wanted to walk, but still loved to accompany us in the car. When I was outside in the garden, she followed me as I moved around the yard. She taught us a valuable lesson about the gift of joy our simple presence can bring.
And so this Christmas, I chose to give time to friends, to neighbours, to family. Afternoon hikes or neighbourhood walks, coffee chats, a movie, a phone call, evenings with simple pleasures, lunch with mom. Nothing frantic, nothing pressing. No malls or shopping sprees. For the first time in a long time,Christmas seems as it should.
And today, my reward is a peace that may not be the world’s peace, but an inner sense of calm. Of rightness. Of contentment. Despite the poverty of our spirit. We are still missing the golden girl who taught us more about being human than any human being. Emptiness still reigns in our hearts.
How else should we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace?
“Peace is a gift from God,
often hidden from the wise and wealthy
and revealed to those who feel empty,
inarticulate and poor.”
Henri J. Nouwen.
Wishing you all a season of presence and peace.