This holiday season, I find myself more fatigued than ever. I have become so busy over the last six months that it is hard to believe it is December. I keep saying, “Wasn’t it August just a few weeks ago?” Yet, my body tells me that much has happened. Many projects have been completed. I have been looking forward to this break—this time to stop for a bit and breathe in the holiday—before the new year throws me right into the fast lane again.
Now in my journey to stop and to rest, I find myself becoming agitated and downright grumpy. I am like Scrooge halfway through his nightmare with the Spirits. I am haunted. I am exhilarated. I am baffled. I am not completely at peace with it all yet. I am in my own Advent darkness hoping for the light that is always promised.
This Christmas, I am haunted by my Christmas tree. It is decorated with so many different ornaments. They reflect my Christmas past and present. One ornament is a nest of two birds that my brother and I reached for each year we decorated the branches of our tree as kids. There is a homemade paper ornament that keeps memory of a parakeet I had in my early twenties. It reminds me of my sweet little blue bird, but also those beginning years right out of college with my best friends. We had a simple tree with homemade paper ornaments and popcorn garland. It wasn’t a fancy-pants tree, but we were proud of it, and we poured our hearts into it as we created the ornaments. I look at that ornament and remember being silly with my friends and how much I miss them now that we live in different cities. There’s a stuffed Papa Smurf ornament in honor of my Grandaddy, who died twenty years ago. He was a great mentor and friend to me; I was always his “Smurf” and he was my “Papa Smurf”. The stuffed ornament makes me smile and remember how much fun we had together, but it also makes me miss Grandaddy even more.
At the top of this memory hill that I climb when I look at my tree, is the most painful, haunting ornament of all—a dalmatian in a gift box that represents my late dog, Lily. I realize this year, that after all of the crying and the terrible pain that has come as a result of her death 16 months ago, I still haven’t fully grieved her.
The tree haunts me. It teaches me that I must hang my present day grief on it. I have to allow it to break my heart completely open so that I can see the guiding gestures of the Spirit of What-Is-To-Become. I am grateful for the tree, and one day I will appreciate the pain. It is proof that I have known love, know love, and will continue to know love. In this season of celebrating miracles and birth, I am swimming in the inevitable cycle of death, looking for my own infancy to return. In the meantime, I am resting in Mother Mary’s womb, waiting for the contractions to begin.