“‘Tis the Season!” That’s for sure, but for what? I always enter this season with a Pandora’s box of conflicting commitments, thoughts, and emotions. In fact, I find the season itself quite paradoxical. This internal maelstrom used to leave me feeling as though something was wrong with me. As I age and find more of my Original Self—the one created long before the world took a whack at me, the more I sense this uncomfortableness is a spark of the Divine within me. The tumult of my soul just might also be light unto my path for the long westward journey back home.
I look around and realize I am not alone in this struggle of “‘Tis.” Many of us laboriously slave away to “make happy,” collect ourselves in dubious herds, and mindlessly babble about the “good ole days”—arduously striving to rise above family conflicts, political differences, and the debt we’re racking up as we tear into one more Box of Something that we didn’t need anyway.
Paradoxically, most of us also experience this season as a deep longing for something more. While aimlessly muddling through the rote, prescribed actions that stopped stirring our soul eons ago, we unexpectedly find a tear trickling down our winterized cheek. We find ourselves hypersensitive to the misfortune of others, and perhaps a bit melancholic over all the suffering in this broken world.
Is it really Christmas? I mean, Christmas for everyone? What is Christmas anyway?
Christmas: that mystical time when eternal, infinite Love took up a temporary mortal address to help all lost and weary souls remember our way Home.
What if the “more” we seek is just Home? Perhaps the melancholic feelings that sneak upon us, in spite of our best intentions, may be a wise guide to re-experience the full measure of the Original Christmas. For example, birth is always beautiful—how much more so when it is the pure incarnation of Eternal Love? At the same time, birth is also painful and scary—what a double portion Joseph and Mary, a newly married couple, received—viewed suspiciously from the outside and full of doubt on the inside as the weight of glory fell upon them.
What is it within us that wants only to experience the beautiful ribbons of Christmas and to shun the tangles of melancholy? I wonder if it’s not because the North Star of Love is so bright that it’s a little disorienting to us mere mortals who tend to reduce everything to some transactional exchange.
Yet, there is no material profit in Love. In fact, the stakes of Love are only for High Rollers, as there is always great risk involved. We never know when we might be disappointed, unrequited, mocked or, once we lie deeply embedded in the soul of another, still yet, betrayed. This is a suffering only Love can endure. Thank God, Love is a High Roller as there is no greater risk than to cast your lot among mankind.
This unusual Christmas tiding—and invitation to melancholy—came early to me this year as I experienced the sweetness of a tragedy. When I initially learned of the rape of our beloved 12-year-old Faiza, every fiber of my being cried out, “No!” A few months later, I visited Faiza and Baby Jane, the newborn gift of life, conceived through tragedy and injustice. I sat on the edge of Faiza’s bed, wrapping my arms around both mother and child, and those same fibers reminded me of Julian of Norwich’s marked truth, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Even as I age—and hold many tragedies in a conflagration of receiver, observer, and perpetrator, I still can’t say that I understand or welcome tragedy, much less injustice. What I can say is that the more I am willing to let go of my finite, human opinions and rationalizations, the deeper my experience of Joy comes and the more I find Love riddled throughout tragedy and even injustice.
Together, let us meander down the trail of melancholy—nibbling up her hints of longing for Something More—in search of the Joy only found in the Original Christmas. To walk this road less traveled, we might have to work a little less hard to “make happy” and, instead, risk experiencing Life tucked in the shadows of Love—more of the “all things” love endures. By entering a bit of melancholy, we might put ourselves in such a position for God to open the eyes of our hearts to the beauty concealed within—and longing to be birthed through—our own and the world’s suffering.