It is the Eve of Christmas Eve as I write this.
A day historically filled with anticipation, last minute preparations, deliveries and cheer.
We experienced some of that today as we set out to deliver some Christmas packages. But I’ve been keenly aware that this year, for so many, Christmas doesn’t feel so merry.
In fact, the greeting itself feels hollow and forced. No, I honestly have had a harder time saying Merry Christmas except in a kind of rote way, just like we often say “How are you”, without even waiting for an answer.
How ARE you, anyway?
Perhaps you feel like my snowman who lost his nose.
I drew him for a smile, because laughter has healing properties!
We all have collectively experienced loss this year. Some more than others. Whether or not the virus has visited your home, there has been a mental health crisis, economic impact, and just sadness at what our limitations are. This hits hard especially in the Christmas season, where we grieve the celebrations we miss, gathering with loved ones, meaningful services at church, or other special concerts or programs that we enjoy this time of year.
Just this past week I have grieved with those who grieve and am aware of the deep aching loss when a loved one dies. Others are experiencing what likely will be a last Christmas. Others, including my own dad are on quarantine and cannot even go out from their homes much less see anyone.
I have come to believe that true healing comes when we acknowledge our losses and disappointments, when we grieve. Sadness and pain are part of the human story.
But also part of the human story is faith, resilience, and hope!
I’m always inspired by wonderful people in history who led by example, One of my favourites was Corrie tenBoom who was imprisoned with her sister Betsy during World War 2. These two sisters and their father offered safe haven to Jews in their home in Holland. Betsy and their dad died in those years. Corrie survived. And she left us a legacy of books that spur us on to hope in the hardest of times.
This Christmas there are those who will be in prison, some unjustly so. Others are in the prison of their own minds. Others are in lockdown. Still others are in hospital and can’t have visitors.
What stories will emerge from these hard times? I have already been inspired by those who find creative ways to inspire, to bring hope, to help others.
What remains is hope. And love. And peace is a gift, from the One who came to bring us peace. Perhaps we can’t honestly say “Merry Christmas”, but we can all give the gift of encouragement..
May you be wrapped in love, filled with peace, have moments of joy, and know much hope this Christmas of 2020 and in the days ahead.