Ascension at Christmas is something to behold. I love our angels all around the church; somehow, with the Christmas decorations up, they are especially dear. I have also been taken by the nativity scene in the chapel, with its many animals, now that the three kings have arrived to see the child born of Mary. Tonight we will have a Twelfth Night Celebration–a procession, camel and all–and do the traditional chalking of the doors around our campus before entering to have a feast. Twelve tables have been set up, each with a nativity set. We will sing the Twelve Days of Christmas with each table required to act out one of the verses. I suspect by the end of the song, things will be quite rowdy and raucous.
I am thankful for all these different ways we remind, no, we refuse to allow ourselves to forget, that we are flesh and body and bone and so is the mystery of God’s love. This business of faith is no easy abstraction nor is it even reducible to an act of the imagination. Everything about faith these days is about incarnation for me. My dad came up to visit us for Christmas and as we talked in those early days of his visit, it became clear that we needed to try to get him moved in with us. Because of the legal maze that involves, my dad is not able to return to his home until the process to get a permanent resident/green card is complete, maybe as long as 6-8 months from now.
That means I watched my dad get so cold his teeth chattered yesterday–his 88 year old body is so not used to the winter weather. That means seeing grief, like I last saw the day my mom died, etched on his face, this time because bringing his dogs, his family, to join him is probably not possible. For me, it means waking up in the middle of the night, mind racing at the implications of such change, and making myself breathe slow and deep, so the tension can loosen its grip, so I can say my simple prayers out loud and let my own voice speak of God’s abiding, trustworthy ways.
It means that tonight, a clear cold night we will have of it in Lowndesboro, I have to remind myself to go out and look up. To have these eyes and this skin that feels the cold, and these ears that hear the rustling sounds of the country means to take in the night with all its magnificence. All the beautiful colors of Christmas, the whimsical, playful, intriguing and beguiling smells, tastes and sounds of Christmas hush and fade. And still, there is a star.