Waiting For The Gift
Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.
At this time of year, I usually find myself hoping that the Christmas Spirit will come to me. I have heard others say the same. It probably is more accurate to say that I yearn for some kind of movement within my heart. For some reason, I keep believing that God wants to give each one of us a gift. Together with this, there is a sense that we should be preparing ourselves to receive this gift. In spite of the rush and distraction of the season, maybe the best way to make ready the coming of God is to find a quiet spot where we can be alone.
In a letter to a friend, Karl Rahner, S.J., does suggest the above approach. We are encouraged to have the setting be much like a little chapel inside of us, one with a sanctuary light, wherein we can hear God speak tenderly and with affection. There in the quiet, we will learn that God comes again and again each Christmas to tell us not to be afraid any more. Our time of tears and worries is over. God comes to shed these tears for us and to dry them. God also wants to fulfill our needs and to embrace us with tenderness on our gloomy days. Truly, there is Someone who cares about our yearnings and our efforts.
In another place, Karl Rahner, S.J., also mentions that there exists in our hearts an inner land where we can go and be alone, a place where only God can find the way. He further encourages the devoted one to quietly enter that innermost chamber and to close the door. Surprisingly, he has the soul singing a song to God, instead of the reverse. Rahner also feels that God hears our song. He further states that if we are recollected we may be able to hear God respond with a gentle word of love, something like “I will be with you in all days to come, even those days when you think you are alone.”
The Main Message Of Christmas
The main message of Christmas, then, is that God is very close to us right where we are. We really do not need to find a church wherein to pray or to light a candle, even though a lighted candle does help our prayer. We are mostly called to revel in the nearness of God and to yield to God’s desire to be with us.
During this holy season, I usually find it helpful to visit the crib in our monastery chapel. As I reflect on this setting, I ask myself: “Who is this beautiful Child huddling so close to his mother and so near Joseph?” The light is too breathtaking. Is the Child perhaps telling us that the coming gift may be something we have never imagined? Who knows for sure what the gift is? It could be a new insight, a new way of seeing things, a new strength, or maybe even a new vision. It is our task, then, to quietly be there with open hands and an open heart, and to believe that something is going to happen. While we wait, we may even opt to find a song we would like to sing to God.
Each Star Has A Name
On Christmas Eve, as the quiet darkness comes upon us, some of us here at the monastery choose to look up and take in the array of stars in our monastic setting, weather permitting. In various places, we are told that each star has a name, large stars as well as the small ones. If this is true, we like to think that God has a special name for each of us, too. It has been suggested that when we are meditating on the Scriptures and see the word “Israel”, we might want to use our own name instead of “Israel”. Speaking of the Scriptures, in Isaiah 40:25-31, there is a passage that is most encouraging. We are told that God never faints or grows weary. Instead, God “gives strength to the fainting, and for the weak makes vigor abound.” The passage goes on to speak of hope. In effect it states that if we have hope, the Lord will renew our strength, and we too will soar like the eagle. If all of this is true, then our only task is to believe, with all our heart, that a new unknown gift we so ardently await with arms outstretched, will come to us this Christmas.
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