One season, two stories. Which story is which…?
This story may have been told us from before our first footsteps, and rests in our first memories.
This story told of gifts that are given secretly and silently at a high price, but for no cost to receive.
This story seems to fill the world with a marvelous wonder and our hearts with a joyful expectancy.
This story teaches us theoretical rules we must follow, but which in practice seem divorced from their consequences – we may try to follow the rules, but we find it impossible to be good all the time, we may be filled with dread or loss, but still we try to be good, and are told maybe the gift won’t come. We know, when we are honest, that we have fallen short, but somehow find the gift still offered, freely and generously, again and again – and it makes our little legs or broken hearts leap for joy.
This story is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, who smilingly or earnestly tell us, YES! it is true, it has to be true! I never saw the giver, but I got those gifts he left! He DID come after all – so it IS true.
If you believe this story you are sometimes doubted. You may see that doubt in a seemingly knowing smile of a loved one, or in the outright ridicule from your friends. You might be told: “That is so silly, you still believe in that?!” And you might start to feel either shame or anger as you raise your fists in defense of the story or lower your head in tears as the laughter or derision rings around you.
This story is told in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it is blasted with loud trumpets and laughter. “Come here! Buy this! Do This! You need This!” Sometimes the quiet joy of the story is subsumed to aggressive marketing or tribal agendas, and that magic we may have felt starts to just seem like just another pitch or angle. The stress of it all starts to bury us and we want to run away from the story, leave it behind, or find another way.
Just when this story starts at times to seems too improbable, you may sometimes wait outside in the dark looking out at the immensities of the night sky, scanning for any sign, any clue that it might be true. You look for any little thing – a vague shadow passing over the stars, or a distant music mingled with the wind. You are hoping, longing, and yearning for it to be true, but when things are so dark, it may just seem that it simply could not be, but still you hope that it all meant something, that it was all not for nothing, that you were not being fed a lie.
But then when you are at your loneliest, you might still hazard that solitary trip down the hall to see if you can catch the giver in the very act. Even though you might not even be able to form the words in your mind, the invitation of “Seek and ye shall find” guides you and it seems you are treading softly the very corridors of your heart as you pause breathless before turning the corner to the grand room where all the gifts are given. What will you find…?
And sometimes you catch him! You glimpse or feel a sense of the hard work and sacrifice required to deliver all of these gifts. And sometimes you feel the tears and the pain that they cost. You might be surprised at how well you really knew the giver as he reveals himself to you, that he was always really there with you, watching and caring, but you just didn’t know it was him, and you might be overwhelmed at how intimately familiar he is in his true form, and how closely he knows and loves your heart. Or maybe you did know or suspect all this, but you had just not yet been able to admit it. You might even tell the giver with a sparkle in your eye, “I really knew it was you all along!” as you laugh and jump into warm loving arms. Or you might more quietly just rest in those arms in solitude and send out a quiet tearful “Thank you, oh thank you so much.”
Which story is Which?
In one story I myself have been the giver, in the other I am just a poor messenger and witness of his gifts.
In one story I have always been careful to equivocate in my words, saying things like “well they say it happens like this,” or “so the story goes, I don’t really know” while I would otherwise work furiously in my actions to build a world or a stage in which it seemed like someone else had left the gifts. In the other story I have given earnest testimony in my words about what I know to be true, while having no gifts to offer as proof. Also my own actions are so often inadequate to honor, or worst, contradict outright the love and gifts of the true giver.
In one story, the giver produces a laugh or a chuckle as I grow older, but I still thrill to see the joy and fun that it brings to others even if it doesn’t seem to last as long as it takes to cook the ham. As I strive to get to know the giver in the other story, it produces a longing and a peace, a sorrow for his tears, and a gratefulness for his goodness that survies onward even though I need to come back in desperation and joy again and again.
Which is which?
I cannot presume to tell you which story is true, or if they are both true in their own way, that is only for each person to discover. I do wish for each of you the love and joy that comes from giving, and am grateful for all that I receive from the loving and caring souls in this world. I have found that those who love and care reflect the love and care of the true giver, even if they may not be sure that they know him, and for that I remain ever grateful.
Merry Christmas. Love y’all. Lona.