There’s something especially magical about Eves, the night before. Before Christmas, before a New Year. The time before anything to which we’re looking forward — a vacation, a birthday, a visitor, a project, a personal breakthrough.
It’s not here just quite yet, but we’re on the verge of it. It’s coming and we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. We don’t have every detail or know precisely what it’s going to be like. We don’t know what all will be involved, everything it’s going to take. But we expect it to be good. So good we can already taste it.
That taste, that magic, is HOPE.
Hope before the package is opened, when it’s still a glimmering surprise waiting to happen. Hope before the dream is actualized, when it’s pure potential, the whole world still available. Hope before the word is made flesh.
Hopefully, the thing we’re looking forward to turns out to be wonderful as well. But even if it’s even better than we were envisioning, it’s likely to be a whole lot more complicated, too. Reality is almost always more mixed up and messy than our anticipatory ideas.
The Eve sparkles with promise; the morning after is a reckoning.
Again, hopefully, a good one. But even the most positive outcomes necessarily are earthbound in a way that expectancy isn’t. A Prince of Peace born on Christmas morning still gets fussy and needs his diaper changed. No matter how shiny and joyful and new, any experience in time and space includes shadow and ambivalence. It changes and adapts with a life of its own, that we don’t control. It gets tarnished and laden with practicality and decision and compromise. It’s almost always different, at least a little, from how we imagined it would be. And we can’t help but compare the real thing to our ideal.
That’s not to say that reality is always a total disappointment, that Christmas Day is doomed to be a let-down. Just that the solidity of its arrival means things become a little heavier, a little less flexible, a little more complicated. (Or, like I said, a lot more.)
I don’t mean to be a drag — “Not on Christmas!” — but I have to admit that I have been missing some of the sparkle lately. This year has been a doozy. Life has felt heavy. It seems like it’s taking tremendous effort to muster much enthusiasm for anything, when I used to bounce off the walls with an excess of it. I’ve been longing for my lost joie de vivre.
Norman Vincent Peale said, “Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” If only…
Of course, there’s a ton of stuff to love about the world, to love about life. There’s so much beauty, kindness, creativity, and connection. I can see that and appreciate it and be grateful even amidst the complicated shitshow of everything else.
What I’m missing is the shimmering anticipation, the childlike wonder, the excitement about what comes next. I miss the Christmas Eve state of mind — the feeling that the best is yet to come, and coming soon. The feeling of being on the cusp of a holy miracle.
Fortunately, that part is pretty much entirely up to me.
Practical reality, living experience, actuality — those are already in play, doing what they’re doing, in ways that I like and ways that I don’t, including things I may be able to affect and things that I can’t. That’s all reckoning, and there’s no avoiding it.
What comes next, though… My sense of what’s possible next…
Possibility lives in mind and heart; possibility is pure imagination, pure Spirit. And it is pretty much all up to me what I’m willing to dare hope for.
The doldrums are real, challenging circumstances are real, loss and grief are real. I’m not dismissing or discounting any of that. What comes next, though, what I believe we can create next, need never be limited by what has come before.
Been-there-done-that-over-it doesn’t have a lot of sparkle. And the future is gonna look a lot less exciting and inviting when I’m coming from groaning world-weariness, laden with lowered expectations and disappointments, drearily expecting more of the same.
So, what if I don’t know what comes next? The truth is, I really don’t. Life is unpredictable, mysterious, and rich with unknowns. And being delighted by it, excited for it, might be largely a matter of letting myself be surprised by it again.
What if I don’t know what’s in the packages, how it’s going to turn out, who might show up? What if I allow that boundless plenty and generosity can still fly through the sky in a sleigh defying all understanding? What if a world-changing love can be born in a barn in the middle of darkest winter?
Anything and everything might be possible.
I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday. On Christmas Eve morning, we’ll have Sunday service at the normal time, 10:00am, with a beautiful Bosque CSL choir. In the evening, please join us for caroling and candlelight in the front studio at 6:00pm, with special musical guests: Scott Hooker, Janna Nelson, Melissa Martinez, and Jon Rabka.
Happy Solstice, friends! XO, Drew
©2023 Drew Groves