The Persistent Beauty Of Christmas

The Persistent Beauty Of Christmas December 15, 2017

photo-1449960132599-0ab49fff5d9a_optUgly is easy.

One year I visited Florence only to discover one of the great statues of Western civilization had been damaged since the last time I was there. The young men who broke it could not have made it, but they did scar it. I am sure they are sorry, but what is done cannot be undone. Ask MacBeth.

The older I get, the sorrier I am for harms done. God made all things beautiful, but in sheer ignorance I can mar what He made and I merely mourn. It is so much harder to help, to create beauty, but that is what we so desperately need. Beauty is so powerful that it can birth something new out of pain. Barbarians destroyed Rome, but bold men and women made something out of the rubble that was new.

Fall comes and strips summer’s beauty. November can be stark, but then December comes. The trees are made bare, but we can fill them with lights.

Christmas has a beauty that tells another truth: we can decorate what God made and in the grace, mercy, and love of Christmas find hope. God allows us to decorate the reality He makes. A Christmas tree elevates even the simplest ornament and makes it beautiful. My parents still have a cardboard cross I cut out, lopsided, and covered with golden wrapping paper almost fifty years ago. It was not much then and less now, but the tree takes it and lights it up and makes the imperfect just so. My little childlike gift is elevated by His tree, His light, and the ways men and women have used those gifts.

This is Christmas where we cannot fundamentally create, but we can decorate. God came and took on our cares, so He could understand our deepest feelings and desires. Of course, we marred that Divine Image, mostly thoughtlessly, sometimes maliciously all the way to a Cross. Jesus took even that Cross and transformed a torture device warped out of His tree to a splendid image of Love. I could gild it, because He made it better. What the Romans and the politicians meant for evil, Jesus made good.

We are, thank God, not statues unable to be repaired. We can find healing, hope, and happiness. Forgiveness is possible, God grant it. That healing may come does not make sin less sinful. God forbid, but it does give a ray of hope. Christmas is the hope we need.

Beauty persists when we we bow in a stable decorated with a star, honored with saints, blessed by the Mother of God, and made beautiful beyond words by very God of very God made human.

Beauty persists.

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