The Divine Is In The Details


There is a feeling that comes to me when I am putting up my Christmas lights. 

It finds its way through frustration that is born out of my inability to organize my lights from year to year, resulting in tangles, blown fuses, and broken bulbs.  It finds a path past my aching back as I twist in a hundred unfamiliar ways trying to string the lights just so. 

It manages to come just underneath my errant swear words and negative self talk, as I find myself stopping and starting, making mistakes, using the wrong cord. 

The feeling that finds me is one of sweet sadness and joy.  It's a feeling that speaks to the way I realize all that has changed, all that has been lost and found, mourned and celebrated since the last time I unwound my lights. 


I remember how my mom loved all of my decorations and would smile sweetly at them...  
The way my littlest boy's face would glow in wonder, bathed in the rainbow colors of my work...   
When my middle son helped me figure out how to run the electrical cords correctly... 
When my oldest boy--home from college--sat and talked with me about his future, both of us  clinging to the shingles on the roof... 
The way my dad changed out all of the broken bulbs this year--helping me as he often does...  
The way my wife smiles, sparkles and says, "Good job, buddy," when we all stand outside and view the finished product.    
And last night, after I'd finished a few strands, I allowed myself to just feel it all.  I stood there and let it all in---all of the memories, the moments, the sights and smells and joys and pain.  It was overwhelming to me. 

I saw then that the stringing of the lights is an expression of love--the kind of love that is able to move past all of the barriers to love and get to the heart of the matter.  

It is also a gesture of defiant hope--a way of marking time, and pushing back the darkness and uncertainty all at once. 

I recently read this quote from Wendell Barry that speaks directly into what I felt: 
I  believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.  
May you find moments during this season of Advent to fully experience Advent---all of it.  Let yourself feel the feelings that come, and be curious about them.  Instead of getting overwhelmed by busy-ness, give yourself permission to stop, breathe, and look around.

Perhaps what you will find is that underneath the schedules and the crazy-making demands of this season of expectation is a path toward wholeness, a way to peace and connection with the God who comes to us. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.

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