Seeing that we can’t go it alone, God delivered a Higher Power to restore us to sanity. Born of Mary into the House of David, He came to live among us to suffer with us and for us (Isaiah 53).
Now and still, we can’t go it alone. Richard Rohr says that when God looks at us, he sees Christ – so completely does his love align with our need for love. And when we look at each other, whom do we see? If not Christ, do we at least see ourselves in one another, in our addictions, our confusion and fear, our loneliness, our aspirations, our insights, our courage, our hope and joy? There is so much to apprehend in one another and so much power within and among us. Other’s gifts and graces needn’t be “higher” – only present. Our presence for each other is our hope and our salvation.
Sober holidays and holy days invite us to recast traditions (especially those we may have defiled in the throes of our addiction) and invent rituals that enshrine our venerable principles and natures. The best of these celebrate the truth that we are no longer condemned to go it alone. We are not condemned by our addictions, by our failings, by our weakness. Christ is born. He is with us and in us.
Christmas cards are a fading custom, but for me a ritual filled with luminous memories. This year, I am greeting stalwarts who have sustained me through trials and numbing losses and unexpected triumphs. Their heroic generosity and genius buttress me. As I compose, sign and address the cards, I recall how these dear people, some barely acquaintances, by intense exertions and inspired gestures lighten my labors, lessen my load and lift my outlook. How wonderful they are!
I have adorned the face of this this special card with an iconic Botticelli madonna, and draped the backside with a verse sprung from the crannies of my soul:
My dear brothers and sisters,
All you viscounts, vagabonds and visionaries,
This year, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus.
We’ll sing in tune with the angels,
Rejoice in delight with the shepherds,
Pray in accord with the sages,
Let’s exclaim uproarious, unbounded, unanimous love for all.
Let’s adorn every greeting with fond wishes and wrap every gift with affection.
Let’s shed rancor and rage, and be mellow, light-hearted and merry.
On Christmas morn, let’s rise as happy children,
And on Christmas night go to our beds forgiving and forgiven,
Hearts bursting with newborn love for one another,
In the name of the child
Whose love conveys us all from creche to cross to eternity. Amen.
Martin McElroy, 2018, from Shattered, Anthems of Healing and Rejoicing