I wanted to post earlier, however my mom's apartment doesn't have internet access, so I had to wait until a connection "made itself available" for my temporary use. (interpret that however you wish)
It's been a wonderful time back in Grand Rapids these past few days. I have a chance to get away from the community, which I much admit was getting a little on my nerves as of lately. I delivered presents to the home-bound members of my parish, I did a little Christmas shopping, and I did another interview about my personal story with the local newspaper.
Thinking about my life and the story I tell to people, the Christmas season is personal to me. It's not the commercial, giddy way I used to like Christmas. It's more of a personal reflection that's neither jolly nor depressing; it's affirming to who I am.
1. Besides the miraculous virgin birth, the entire birth story, and the wonderful feeling of joy it brings, I focus on that self-emptying of Christ. I see in Jesus the Divine that is greater than anything we could possibly imagine-choosing to live as a mortal: a king born in a barn. That image of self-emptying is something I reflect on. And while my own life is far from that of Jesus, I see parallels in the way that giving of oneself can bring so much more.
2. This time of year, people are looking for good stories of humanity. Right now I hear my mom watching "It's A Wonderful Life" for the 298347398th time. We watch Scrooge, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause....stories of conversion in the hearts of its characters. In a way, my story is the same.
But I'm not a Scrooge or a Grinch...I'm a normal guy like most of you reading this blog who's had that same conversion experience that you see about in the movies. Perhaps it has less to do with "believing in Santa" and more to do with "being called to serve the Lord," or maybe the former is simply a metaphor for the latter. Either way, my conversion is nothing fictional; it doesn't end after the Christmas season.
So as you settle down this Christmas eve, thinking about your children, your family, your loved ones. think about yourself and why you feel happy/sad/excited/tired/dissatisfied. God so loved the world that he chose to live among as one of us. Perhaps we should think more about what we could empty ourselves of to better recognize and receive that love that God has shown for us, as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Merry Christmas, and if anyone chooses to compare me to a Christmas movie character, I'd prefer you use "buddy's dad" from "Elf." James Caan looks like he could get stuff done.