It was really cold here on Christmas.
The mercury languished in the single digits almost all day. Between the winter storm and the flu outbreak, my minister decided to make all three Christmas services* available online. I was tempted to stay home and worship in my pajamas. It's just ...
Somehow it felt important to attend in person. I'm here, not in Key West with Henry. There's a reason for that, though only God knows what it is. This Christmas has sharpened my feelings of loneliness and loss: I miss my late mother, I miss my favorite uncle, I miss Henry, who has dementia, so he's still here but not.
Christmas and New Year's ... Jesus' birth and the dawn of 2023. It feels like this is the last Christmas season of my old life. That my new life has yet to begin. I need help adapting to this new life. I can find that help in my church. Not just church. My church.
I don't go to church for the sense of community. Beyond emails about congregations matters, I don't communicate with my fellow churchgoers. I don't attend services there to socialize. I go to focus and and learn and heal.
So wearing a blouse and my heavy black cardigan and a scarf and my biggest and puffiest down coat and my wool socks and my boots I walked around the corner and went to my church for the Christmas Eve service.
It was the best choice! Zoom would not have been the same. I needed the purity and concentration that can only be experienced in person. Singing along with "O, Come All Ye Faithful, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and "Joy to the World" helped me get my mind right. And my minister! I felt like she was speaking just to me.
She's not our official minister, but she's been with us for more than a year as we search for a new minister. I wish she would stay, because for me, she's perfect: imaginative and challenging.
She acknowledged that Christmas can be loaded for some of us. That not everyone is feeling merry. That memories tug at our hearts and expectations can go unmet. She was funny and charming and empathetic. She read The Advent Poem about Christmas in the modern world. I laughed out loud at these lines:
I want to welcome angels and say yes to anything, but if I saw an angel I would hold him hostage and send a ransom note demanding answers, to God.
I admit that's been so me lately! I believe everything happens for a reason, that God knows the reason, that He is driving the bus. Still, I'm frustrated because so much has been going on and I can't figure out why. My faith is not shaken, but my patience has been.
Just hearing her address it, and in the House of God, made all the difference. I'm not alone in this. My minister gets me. I can find comfort and understanding, if not answers, in my spiritual home.
We ended with "Silent Night." I slipped out into the frigid night feeling lighter and more grateful.
*Two on Christmas Eve, one on Christmas Day