The Gift That Remains
There is a beautiful quote making its rounds these days. It goes like this:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when kings and princes are home,
when shepherds are back with their flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins. Howard Thurman
We all know that hollow feeling inside of us when the decorations come down, and the carols are put away until another Christmas. We call it “Ordinary Time”. Here, at the Monastery, we keep Christmas to the very last moment.
From another perspective, I like to think that each Christmas gives us a new and special gift that we are to hold and cherish and allow to unfold after the formal season has come to a close. The writer of the First Letter of John, says, in effect, “Let what you have received and experienced remain in your heart.” So, in actuality, the real Christmas begins when the decorations come down.
The least we can do, then, is ask ourselves what this new gift might be? The gift could be as simple and direct as a new insight. The insight I received this Christmas is the realization that our true unique personalities are God-given and not something we ourselves put together.
The gift could be a new insight about God or about ourselves, or a new way to pray. It could be the gift of being shown how to let go of a worry, or the discovery of a hidden source of courage and determination. If we continue to meditate on this, we might find that we have been given the gift of letting go of our defenses, a renewed sense of trust, or a new way of going out to the brokenhearted near us.
In closing the season of Christmas, here at the Monastery, this was the blessing given at Evening Praise on the Feast of the Epiphany:
Gracious God, send your Spirit to bless each one of us individually and as
a group. Be with us as we journey onward, and give us signs that we are on the
Loving God, during the coming year, when we need it most, show us the star
that came to be on the day or night we were born. With great sincerity, we pray
that the light of this humble star might shine on those who need it most, bringing
them comfort and encouragement and a sense of the nearness of God.
Now that the angels have stopped singing, and the shepherds are back with their
flocks, and the kings are on their way home by a different route, be our God-With-Us
as we adventure forth with the gift you have given, the gift that remains. .
Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.