The gifts are opened. The food eaten. The house is a disaster. Some return to work, others are left with family (who linger too long or not long enough) before schedules demand a return home. Leftovers are scattered throughout the kitchen. Pesky remnants of wrapping paper stay hidden behind couches and the tree. All that glittered so brightly with the awe of the season yesterday, warm and full of sentiment and memory, seems just a bit tarnished this morning- too garish in the early light and somehow colder. We’re tired, usually a good exhaustion, but spent nonetheless; the yawning reality that the big day, Christmas, has come and gone once again saddens us. And with it the small heartache that reality has already started seeping back in to our lives. If only the feeling, that intangible wonderfulness of the season could last forever. Our hearts yearn to linger in the soft light of the manger for just a bit longer.
Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright ‘round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
What a lovely scene.
But just as the day after every child’s birth must come- life continues. Mary awoke to the reality of having just brought a baby into the world. And now life started... or rather continued- with a <slight> new Addition. Life- with all the stress, schedules, messiness, and tomorrows pushes forward despite our best efforts to tarry in yesterdays. If only it could be Christmas forever. After all, no one sings carols about the day AFTER Christmas.
Mary had a new baby to feed, clothe, teach, basically keep alive and healthy- the responsibility of which I’m sure was not lost on her. The reality of her life the day after her Son’s birth must have looked downright terrifying and bleak. Suddenly the lowing of the livestock wasn’t as soothing as it had been the night before. The sweet smell of the fresh straw had been replaced by the iron-laced tinge of blood and animal dung. Last night’s warmth of the cozy cave chilled as the morning light seeped too early through the rafters and slats reminding the new parents that life, indeed, continued around them. The day after Christmas came too soon, too brightly, too loudly. Their sweet, silent night had come and gone. As many times it does for us all. Though we long to replicate those precious days, all too often the worry and stress of our days overshadow the silence of our nights.
And yet Mary and Joseph got to take their little CHRISTmas with them. They walked with their Christmas right out of that stable and carried Him with them for the rest of their lives.
So also can we. The warmth, the glow, the reason for the season as we like to say... IS the Christ child. And the most wonderful gift is not just that He was given to us but more so that we can take Him with us... always, anywhere, forever. The feeling we long for, the silent and holy nights we cherish, are ours to walk in, to rest in.
Knowing this reality, sleep in heavenly peace dear one. Amidst all the days after Christmas, take the Christ with you.
And sleep in heavenly peace.