Thursday, December 11, 2014

Season Of Love

I just finished my nightly ritual for this time of year.  I walked though my house plugging in and turning on all the Christmas lights in my personal “Christmas village!”  There is nothing more magical than sitting on a quiet night basking in the glow of Christmas.  To the naked eye they are only lights, but looking through eyes of love, they are so much more. 

Now, I am curled up on my sofa watching the soft glow of the amber lights on my tree that are randomly sprinkled with a special sparkle and twinkle.  It is quite a spectacular display actually.  I know what you are thinking – “It doesn’t take much to excite her!”  I suppose you are right.  The older I get, the more I realize the value of simple moments and how extraordinary certain seemingly ordinary things are.  So you want to know what makes the string of lights across my rooftop and this twinkling set of lights dancing through my Christmas tree so fabulous?  Love…. Yes that’s right, love!  When we spent some back breaking hours in the yard, fine tuning a perfect night display, it was annoying, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time!  Those who know and love me, know what a child at heart I am, so when I am being fussy and every OCD quality comes raging forth during the process of decorating, I am met with a kind and patient understanding that is beyond words.  Perhaps it is because of love and then perhaps it is simply to keep the peace!  I want to believe it is love.  My exhausting enthusiasm was met with willing service from a loved one that day.

Normally, my decorating process begins Thanksgiving weekend.  I start with my masterpiece – my tree and then build out with all the decorations in my home and finally the yard and back porch.  This year however, I started early and reversed the order of things – saving the best for last, my Christmas tree.  This is a task I shared with someone close to me last year and so they asked if they could share this special moment again.  I was delighted, as last year was such fun and the task was much less daunting with two of us.  Due to conflicting schedules, the days passed all too quickly and we were delayed over a week for this special task.  But then the day finally came this week for tree decorating!  I was like a child on Christmas morning.  I couldn’t wait for “everyone” to wake up to open the “presents,” so before my decorating buddy arrived, I began dragging out and “unwrapping” all the decorations, ribbons, ornaments, lights etc.  Like a kid in a toy store, I didn’t know where to begin.  So, I thought I’d be practical and start testing out the lights.  Now if you have ever tested out the previous year’s lights, you will understand what I am going to say.  I felt like the mean ole’ Grinch had come and stolen Christmas from me for a brief moment.  Four strands of my lights wouldn’t burn!  When help arrived, so did the true spirit of Christmas.  Before I knew it, my sweet friend hopped in the car and headed out to Lowes.  The result of the purchase that day was more than I could’ve hoped for.  I had four huge strands of the “deluxe model” LED random twinkling lights!  As we stood facing each other winding lights around my tree, the brilliance of the moment was illuminating.  My friend could be doing much more important things than stringing lights around the tree, but it wasn’t about the tree, it was about me.  This mattered to me; this gave me joy and delighted my heart, and what delighted my heart delighted the heart of my “secret Santa.”  There was no agenda, no motive… only a heart of kindness and love that received as much from the giving as I did from the receiving. 

You know, they say that this time of year is the “season of love.”  You have to admit, it really is true.  It is a time when strangers are kinder, friends are sweeter, loved ones are more patient, neighbors are friendlier and worries melt away at the sight of glowing lights and sparkling tinsel.  I wish I could package this feeling and distribute it to the world, but I can’t.  What I can do is allow it to shine into the depths of my heart and then allow my heart to become like a luminary along my daily path.   It isn’t about producing light; it is simply about letting the light that is already there shine – the light that has been here since the first Season Of Love.   Like the day I drove over to my seventy-five year old mama’s house to help string lights around her tree because her back and shoulders get a bit weary from years of wear and tear taking care of her family.  Or the night I took a small tree, some decorations and lights to my son’s apartment.  Before I set up his little Christmas display, I spent a few hours doing what mama’s do – cleaning up the apartment!  Then, we stood the tree in a perfect spot; I wound the lights around the tree, illuminating the true light of Christmas in a way that lit up my son and his roommate.   Before you knew it, these strong young men were hanging red and gold ornaments on a tree with the wonder and delight of little boys.  I had to laugh a bit as the roommate had said only moments before “I don’t really do the decorating thing.”  Light dispels darkness with minimal effort!

As the days narrow in on Christmas Day, I hope each of us will take a moment to “stop and smell the poinsettias!”  Don’t let this be the season of shopping, parties and gifts alone.  Let it be what it has always truly been – the Season Of Love!  Christmas is still Christmas with or without all those things and activities.  To quote a familiar portion of the children’s classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas…

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store… What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

The other day I revisited one of my favorite passages of scripture.  It gives definition to this season that we celebrate each year and that we should celebrate every day of our lives…

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance… (other things) will become useless. But love will last forever!  (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

         When I first began writing tonight, it was dusk.  There was still just a little natural light outside.  Now though, darkness has settled in, but I don’t notice it at all because my twinkling lights have illuminated every nook and cranny of the room!  I can almost feel the “warmth” of each little beacon that reaches out to me from my grand and lovely tree.  Every sparkle is a sweet reminder of all things good – giving from the heart and laughter from time shared.  I feel safe from the darkness and uniquely loved.