At Christmas, the image of an intact nuclear family is at the center of it all.
That image, of a mom, a dad and a baby together forming a circle of love, is mirrored for us each year in dozens of different ways from commercials to Hallmark movies to news stories about people traveling at Christmas to get home to the accounts of friends and coworkers talking about their own Christmas plans.
For those whose circle has been torn open by
- physical distance
- relational breakdown
- other losses
this is an especially difficult time of year. It is for me, too. So, a prayer today for those walking through this season with a piece of our hearts missing.
Father, you tell me you will restore all things, but in this season, those words sound even more improbable than telling a mountain to move and having it shift even an inch before my eyes. The disconnected edges of that torn circle in my life are raw. Even if those edges have been torn for years and seem scabbed if not healed, this season inflames those places of pain in my life once again. My arms are empty. My heart is broken.
Counting my blessings, Julie Andrews-style, isn’t always much of a balm, to be honest. Nor does it always help me to remember that the baby at the center of every manger scene is the son you chose to release from your embrace at some level I can’t fully comprehend in order to become dividing cells, marrow and sinew and eyelashes and tiny fingers. God became a crying baby, hungry for the comforting arms of his mama and his earthly papa who know just what the little one needs most.
Which is why the greatest gift a new parent gives to those who come to see his/her child are the words, “Would you like to hold the baby?” As I come to the inglorious stable, raw and torn, Father, would you help me hear that invitation, extend my arms, and for a single eternal moment, hold that baby? As I do, Father, would you hold me?
In the name of your Son, I pray. Amen.