I have wakened on this Christmas Eve morning with a desire for and a hope that all things can be made new. I hardly know how to speak of the last few weeks, the days that have made up December, the Advent season, the walk to the manger. In some ways I would want to say – this is not what I was wanting. I have been far busier than I would like. I said good-bye to a very dear friend whose presence I am missing greatly. I have driven in a car exceedingly more than I would like. I have not baked anything for Christmas. I am not on top of the cleaning in my home. I haven’t knitted in a few days now. It is tempting to let this be the final word.
But. In other ways I must say – I have begun each day with a meditation practice that is developing an uncanny ability to move through whatever life throws at me. It is granting me an ability to hold on through prayer to Him who stitches me together. I’ve been enabled to feel a spaciousness in the midst of grief, a sense of abiding in the crazy busy days, a knowledge that if I’m just right here, all will be well. And in the face of all that I have not done, I am strangely able to hold that lightly, even let it go, and know that those things do not make or break me, they do not define whether I’ve had the slow, contemplative Advent that I desired. Perhaps I might even admit that what I’m really longing for is exactly what I’ve been granted: a spaciousness in and through all that goes on in my life. Does this make any sense at all?
Mary is always an inspiration to me. I think often of her words “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me according to Thy word.” Her willingness to be a vessel, to have her entire life’s trajectory shifted and changed in a blink, to say yes so innocently and humbly, to be a womb for God. I have translated this somehow to having more time, more open space for contemplation and reflection. Yes, I do think I need to create more of this in my life. But what I’m understanding about Mary this Advent, is not merely that she willingly made space for God in her life, but that God made a space IN her…a space that she would carry with her in and through all of her comings and goings. She carried in her person space for grace to grow. That space of grace was with her as she did her chores, as she traveled near and far, as she walked in relationship with her family, friends, with Joseph, with Elizabeth. It wasn’t a spaciousness separate from all of these things, but one which was in the center of them all, silently growing until one day it would define her life’s work even more than she realized before.
This is the spaciousness I desire and which in many ways I already have. I also woke this morning encouraged in my heart that Christmas does not end after tomorrow. It actually BEGINS! We enter the Christmas season tomorrow dear sister and for that I am truly grateful! It isn’t over. It is just beginning! I can visit family, bake a little bit if I like, clean if needed, and yes knit or stitch. The next couple of weeks through January 6th will be space for God to grow His grace in me, just as He has done this Advent, and will do so beyond and into the New Year! What good news that He does this work of making space in us! May we carve out time to meditate on this wonder and be thankful that Emmanuel is always coming to us, each day, making space in our busy hearts for His grace to grow!
“Don’t let this be the gift you refuse. The grace is for you.
Your greatest gift is not your gifts, but your surrendered yes to be a space for God.
The miscarriage of Christmas begins when anxieties crowd out space within simply to carry Christ. Make room; be a womb. Be a womb to receive Christ everywhere, and it is He who delivers everyone.
So you let the last of the trimmings go.
Cease the pace to do, buy, produce more.
Find the calendar and erase. Somewhere make space.
And you can feel the space become a sanctuary. Sanctity stilling the crush. Glory overshadowing everything else.
And time holds it breath, and the whirl of this old whirligig world holds for half a blink…and God comes in the fullness of His love into the willing space.
And time exhales relief, and the angels dance joy, and the velvet hush of grace received falls over this place like a coverlet over a waiting child.”
-Ann Voscamp. The Greatest Gift. pgs. 224-225.