Wednesday~December 23, 2009
It sounds absurd, believing in this spirit pregnancy and the coming of a Baby God to a small barn with the stench of cows. It can seem ridiculous to think that both the working poor and Very Important People alike came sandal-footed to see if it were true by starlight.
It sounds absurd.
I don't believe the absurd because religion tells me to (I brush my teeth religiously and still cavities work their way through my mouth every now and again). I don't even believe it only because the Bible tells me so (I have found a recent adoration for the Bible, but that was slow in coming, later than my belief in a stable born God coming to rewrite a story that would have had a very sad ending).
I believe it because I see the aftermath of this beautiful story. These eyes to see the never-ending string of holy are mine because of the absurd arrival of that Baby King. What I see is as miraculous as a spirit pregnancy. It is hope and joy in rubbled failure and regret. It is mercy.
My faith is a belief that there is a Source for the seeing of this.
If religion itself could keep away my decay and paint the world with hope that covers despair, I would consider myself religious. But religion can't do that. So I call myself a Believer of the Absurd rather than Religious or Conservative or Right. I am none of those things. I am just me with faith.
The seeds of my childhood beliefs burst through the soil and pulled toward the sun in the last ten years.
It became real and profound and good in a place as unlikely as a manger.
I hadn't liked church for a very long time and so I was there feeling nothing, waiting for things to start and expecting them to follow the usual routines of an empty kind of forced thing. And so I didn't expect what I got. I got what I'd never met and now expect.
What a stable child started was there despite my cynical attitude, my decidedly fed up with religion arrogance and the guilt-based teachings of many a past attempt at church.
I stood, arms crossed, waiting to be ashamed and frustrated. Expectant.
Then it hit me like cold air to the face, catching my breath and leaving me awestruck.
What is this? I don't know, I don't know, but this is how it should be, I thought. If only we humans could let it be this way all the time, there would be no escaping belief.
My soul welled up in response to it.
The music, the culture, the people and the very place were alive with it. The sanctuary was pregnant with it, this rush of love so thick and so real I could not escape its welcome suffocating. It was not forced or fake, it was simply life-giving and affirming and as real as the nose on my face. An unconditional and accepting nose.
It was absurd to a jaded girl like me, this feeling I can't explain, one that only comes from real love being acted out as it should be.
What started my tears was the children's choir, the way they swayed with culture, differences, voices high and low and off-key and on and yet they were all the same. They were joy. They were thankful. They were praise. It couldn't be contained, this deafening beautiful thing from small hearts.
One of them, she was maybe around twelve or thirteen, she stood on the end with the others, the younger ones of ten and five and six. She sang and her face lit up the place as she swayed with her own baby belly sticking out like sin for all to see. Right there, up front and center, here I am, I'm a pregnant child and I'm fully loved, accepted, singing praises because I can.
I couldn't take my eyes off her.
It was absurd, this radiance.
And the swaddled baby 2000 years before? He is our source for radiant faces. A source of mercy and grace. A source of love.
. . .
We all are, I thought that day back then. We all are loved, all pregnant with our mistakes but not slaves to them because of a stable baby. Like the careful work of wiping a newborn clean, He does it. We're God's prizes and daughters and sons and it's so good.
And now it's here in my home all the time, this seeing of it. This suffocating love I can't escape. Bigger and bigger like a round expectant belly because of the belief in it, growing and birthing forgiveness from my children after I throw up my arms and yell from my lungs. It is here in the praise from my heart for all the many things that are of my boys. It reconciles the broken pieces of marriage and redeems the ugliest of actions. It gives me hope in dark and hard things where I sometimes can feel so suffocated by being so stuck.
It is not of me or of religion or of church.
It is all because a Christ baby came in a strange way for the purpose of making it so.
It was the feeling that must have been there that cold night in Bethlehem, the new thing for always, softening hearts and eyes with grace.
It is Him. And He is the best kind of absurd.
. . .
MERRY CHRISTMAS! I'll see you after we move house. Peace.