It is the quietness that follows the departure of family members that best captures Christmas. Of course in the hulabaloo of family celebrations around fine foods and fine wines there is a sense of celebration - but it is a somewhat brash affair. It may just be me but I am left a little uncertain about the benefits of the large gathering around the meal table. Conversations seem uncertain, there is the competition for centre stage between various family members and of course the exchange of presents so that one feels overwhelmed by 'stuff'.
I love the gathering, the stories, the sleeping, the little power plays and off stage huffs but feel it is owned by Christmas rather than creating a Christmas experience of value for its own sake. Today however, as guests depart and the house falls quiet I can reflect upon this season of gratitude once again and sense something of a love that is beyond my comprehension. My struggle is for three days of managing a Christmas event with blood relatives on every side - Jesus' was to love in an unfamiliar environment related only by an assumed humanity.
It is very difficult to reach for metaphors that make sense of such a sacrificial action. And I know I am unable to make much more than a 5% response to love in so committed a way. My life will once more revolve around meeting my own physical, emotional and spiritual needs for another year when I shall find myself at this point once again, a year older but no wiser. It has happened each year thus far and I cannot see how it might change.
However, perhaps in this year ahead I might take a more proactive stance and implement more of the practical consequences of my spiritual understanding than I have risked - or rather been too lazy - so far. My head is full, my heart is convinced, but my body remains petrified. I shall wait in the silence and in 12 months time discover what work was being effected in that space.