I’m seeing it everywhere. This call to slow down this Christmas. To take time out of your busy days and be still. To prop your socked feet up in front of the twinkling tree and rest. And be sure to document it on Instagram. Watch the snow fall, listen to the carols sung, breathe a little deeper and savor it all. It’s the time of year to set aside apart of your days to the calming of your spirit as it awaits the coming of your savior. And I’m all about that. Nothing sounds more delightful.
Unfortunately, the coming of December doesn’t bring a stop to the responsibilities of a grown-up trying to adult her way through this life. It’s not like suddenly there’s meals being made for you, or your floors being swept on their own. It’s not like all those little jobs that you’ve fitting together like an intricate puzzle suddenly disappear. If anything, they increase. I’m over here running harder than normal, my schedule for the weeks ahead busting at the seams. Concerts, performances, conferences, lessons, events, family plans, traveling. My days are stuffed and I’m wondering when I might be able to add a socked-foot-couch-lounging-tree-gazing photo to the Instagram feed.
Not just because I’m tired – though I am. Not just because I’m sentimental and like fitting cute holiday traditions into my December – though I do.
I’m wondering when I’ll be able to slow things down enough to linger at the feet of Jesus and encounter Him in the solemn stillness and sacred silence this season is supposed to hold.
Not today, it seems. Today I’m scrounging the cupboards to find some ideas for breakfast. Today I’m piecing together sack lunches and scrubbing the dishes down and running my husband to work because our second car’s battery is dead and squeezing in a shower before I have to get to work myself. I’m practicing those sections of choir music over and over again so that I might be able to get through the concert without a disaster. I’m rescheduling piano students into the little gaps I have left in my days because we have school events every night this week. I’m putting together meal plans and grocery lists because we have to eat and I don’t want to go to Subway every night this week. I’m running checks to the post office and gathering ingredients for cookies that need to be made. I’m wiping down the sink and scrubbing the toilet and chipping unknown food items off the kitchen floor. I’m hungry for divine encounters today, for holy moments, for extraordinary experiences with God in a beautiful chapel or at least on the couch in front of my Christmas tree, sipping some Christmassy coffee drink. But today I’m in the middle of ordinary life. And tomorrow too. And probably the day after that.
Everyone is telling us to slow down this Christmas. And I’m all for slow. Eliminate the hurry and hustle and rush, absolutely. By all means, don’t succumb to the frantic frenzy we’re all prone to as Christmas approaches. But the thing I keep forgetting is that the majority of humanity’s encounters with God happens in the ordinary.
Think about it.
Mary. The woman chosen to birth God. The woman an angel appeared to and told her she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. A normal girl, going about her daily business.
Joseph. The man who became the Messiah’s earthly father. The man who raised and taught Jesus. The man who an angel came to. He was sleeping, trying to decide if he should break up with his fiancé or not. A normal man, going about his daily business.
Those shepherds. The first humans to get the announcement that the Savior had come. The people who witness a whole host of angels singing praises to God in the skies. They were simply doing their job – watching sheep. Normal guys, going about their daily business.
Bethlehem. A small, unimportant village. No vacation destination, no sight-seeing stop. It was the place of the Christ child’s first breath. The God of the universe decided to enter into that no-name town and make his home there.
I think God wants to meet us in the ordinary, daily business of our lives.
I would love for everything to stop in December. To have a whole month dedicated to quietly observing this special holiday. To sing in cathedrals and run through snowy meadows and walk underneath brightly lit streets and listen to church bells chime. I would love to sit in front of my tree for an hour each morning and another in the evening. I would love to meet God in extraordinary ways. But perhaps it’ll be in the ordinary – the dishes and laundry and eating and sleeping and going to work – that God will arrive.