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Day 11 Deb’s Advent Calendar

It’s eleven degrees outside and still dark. We’re drinking coffee and Fannie is chewing on her new pig toy. Mary is watching.

“Did you really write that? A wee Babe’s face’?” Todd asks after I read him my poem.

“I did. You don’t like it?”

“Wee?”

“What?”

“We don’t talk that way.” He says attempting a Scottish accent.

“I’ll cut it.” (But sometimes a poem doesn’t have to be like we talk, does it…?) “Do you like the word dank?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s used for a basement usually, not a stable. You could use ‘odorous’ maybe. But we like thinking it was clean straw. We want it a little nice for the Baby Jesus. A nice manger with clean straw…”

And this is our banter in the wee hours of the morning as I wonder what the message for Day 11 will be. And I wonder if it was really cold when He was born. I wonder where the tangibles end and imaginings begin?

There’s a picture in my mind because of the carols I sing, because of the Christmas story I’ve been told, but is that the way it really was? And what’s important anyway? I want to understand what Jesus and Mary and Joseph were enduring. I couldn’t walk for three days after I had a baby. Charlie came fast but it knocked me off my feet.

Labor. In my mind I see her crouched beside that manger and I ache for her. Was there even a stool for her to sit on?

Release, relief, merging with mystery, miracle and wonder.

What does our heart hold onto? Like water being purified, can we strip away all that’s unnecessary in this message—the Christ Child’s birth…

If you, in the midst of the carols and cards carry sorrow, don’t be discouraged. It was a dark day for Him too.

He made Himself nothing to give us the light of His knowledge in a wee Babe’s face. Though a great company of heavenly hosts appeared saying, “Glory!”, He laid in straw in a gloomy dank place—the heart of the world.

Now here our hearts lay. Waiting expectantly for His light that flames the fibers of our inmost being—enlightening, warming, refining, overwhelming, extinguishing, the old life, quickening us to the place where we will no longer fear His flame because everything combustible will have been consumed.

Poor, and knowing sorrow—the deepest of the deep—He came, and comes into the dark cold cave of our hearts with His igniting Love. His birth on earth—the Gift everlasting—is received with sorrow, with humility. And with Awe.

Parts of this post were published on Not According to Plan, December 25, 2016, our first Christmas without Dad.

Photo: My mom holding my son

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