We're having a pouring down rain Christmas Eve here in Deridder.
And my thoughts, I'll admit, were as gray as the rain on the way home from church. Because unfortunately I belong to the group that tends to look extra hard at the broken parts of my life around the December holidays. The twinkling lights and perfectly decorated cookies seem proof that others are living in a magical world while I am dealing with Real Life Problems.
I wasn't going to be this way this year. I was going to give the magic a shot. To be honest, I did. Some moments were a success. And I won't tell you about all my moments of Failed Magic. That would be long and pointless.
On the school Christmas program, I was watching the children in the front. Their faces were lit up by battery powered candles and their singing echoed thru the dark church. I thought about how none of us knew what funny and disastrous mistakes had happened during program practice. We as the audience had no way of knowing who is absolutely not catching on to long division, who dreads recess because of being picked last for soccer teams every time, who sits and eats their lunch in quietness because they feel left out of the conversation, who has a mess of unfinished work or piles of corrections squirreled away in their desk. We don't see anyone's brokenness. Every face looks bright and happy to us and the voices blend together and become one because everyone had the courage to show up and sing.
So does that mean there can still be magic in the middle of brokenness?
I was thinking in Sunday school this morning about the shepherds and how they must have been a rough lot. Poverty can do that to a person. When you spend all your time thinking about survival there's not much time for pondering the deeper things of life. You can get short tempered around the people closest to you. You can get negative and suspicious and think the world is out to get you. And yet those broken shepherds got to see more magic that night than any one of us. Mary was probably terrified when they burst in on her little makeshift stable home. Weak and exhausted, not hardly able to even believe she was holding the King of the Universe; and just when she thought she might be able to rest a bit, that raucous group descended upon her.
But that was just the beginning.
It seems like Jesus did everything to prove that he was the Friend of the Broken. He was always going around saying controversial things, spending time with shady characters, and stopping to touch the untouchable.
The only people who he couldn't reach were the ones who believed they were already whole.
I'm thinking of the many people I crossed paths with this year. There was a black American lady married to a Honduran man working on immigration paperwork in New Orleans. The wife was waiting for him in the lobby of the huge Marriott just like I was waiting for my people. Our babies made friends instantly and yelled at each other thru the bathroom walls. We found out their birthdays were only a few weeks apart.
There was the Haitian cleaning crew who came out at night to clean the hospital in Lake Charles. They said they'd lived there for years. Who knew?
There are the hospital therapists on the second floor that we still go see when we're in the area. And Madanm Sara always asks my dad in law if he's been naughty lately.
A man carried my groceries out of a little Market Basket in Lake Charles early one morning. I was buying bananas and bread to take back to the hospital for breakfast. He asked me if I was a Christian and said he would pray for me. I sure needed it. I wasn't coping well with my life and had spent the night curled up on a wierd chair worrying about my baby who I'd left home with my mom. On another early morning coffee shop run, I bought a homeless man a donut and a chocolate milk. I made sure to shake his hand and say "God Bless You, Sir," but that was all I could do and he disappeared around the corner of the building so quickly.
It's such a large world. And we only see little glimpses of each other for the most part. How wonderful to think that Jesus who walked the mountain paths of Galilee still walks among us.
He knows all of the broken spots already. No need to hide behind twinkly lights and the perfectly sewed Christmas dress. He is perfectly at home at your tense and awkward family gathering. He's already inside the run down trailer where you're singing carols, even tho no one came to the door and the lights flicked off.
Jesus will always be the Best Friend of the Broken. The Imogene Herdman's of the world will always get his most tender smiles.
And that, my friend, is all the magic I need for this Christmas.
P. S. As I finish typing this, our power has just gone out. I heard a large boom in the distance. So much for twinkling lights. And I sure feel sorry for the linemen and their wives. 🤍