In Between Times

I wonder . . . what Christmas do you remember?

No, no, no – I’m not talking about when you were a kid and there was that special toy or the year you were ten and skated in New York’s Rockefeller Center and the night was magical or when you surprised “Santa” near the tree as he (er, your father, brother, uncle) munched on the peanut butter cookies you left while putting a pony under the tree.

No childhood memories, please.

Be a card-carrying adult about it, long past the so-called magic time. After cynicism and weariness arrived . . . and enthusiasm and innocence left the building a decade or more ago. And yet, you still felt Christmas’ deepest meanings…

This is one for me . . . as I started working at my last church, I was leaving a job as a hospice chaplain. The congregation had an early and late Christmas Eve service. But I promised one hospice patient I’d visit her that night . . . and so I drove to her home between the two celebrations. Joy to the World echoed for me. Laughter still resonated from a Christmas Eve children’s sermon. And there was the exhaustion of the season. However, for a few moments, with a mother who was dying and a daughter who cared for her, I sat in a quiet dark house. We prayed. We swapped long ago family memories. I became, in the season of wonderment, I silent holder of hands and whisperer of God’s forever good news. Unto us a child is born, but there is still dying and death. And, with dying and death, there is still a silent night, a holy night, a time and place of embracing others.

I’ll always remember that night. And what of you . . .?