A combination of life transitions and unexpected events made this past fall one of the hardest seasons in recent memory. We are holding it together. The essentials are getting done. There’s food, water, and clean-ish laundry but there hasn’t been much time or energy for even basic Christmas decorating. For the first time, there is no Christmas tree.
Amidst the hard things, dear friends have walked alongside me. One created this kintsugi style bowl for me as a Christmas gift. It reminds me of hard lessons learned before: after healing, we are forever changed. Though we cannot control the hurt that comes our way, potential goodness and beauty are some of what my colleague names “impossible possibilities” on her blog about prayer.
For those for whom Christmas is complicated, I added to a list of resources shared in our children’s ministry newsletter that I have found helpful in navigating the days ahead:
- 37 Holiday Self Care tips for anyone who is kind of not ok right now
- A friend’s reflection on Christmas decorations that don’t go according to plan.
- Tips for Recovering from Christmas for those who work for the church
- A list of local (to northern Chicago suburbs) crisis centers from website of the church I serve.
Poetry, prayer, and music are gifts (for you or a loved one) that journey with us through all that life brings. A few of my favorites:
- Ash and Starlight by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn
- Circle of Grace by Jan Richardson
- We Pray with Her: Encouragement for Women Who Lead
- One of my grandmother’s poems, paired with a piece of art I found hope in creating
- A Spotify playlist with the songs that spoke to me this fall.
- And, of course, the works of Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and David Whyte.
We just dragged the old artificial Christmas tree out of storage. Still bare, it leans a bit sadly to the left. Maybe we’ll decorate it tonight. Maybe not. Either way, God is with us in the promise of healing and beauty that lie beyond what we imagine possible. God is with us in the strange coexistence of joy and hardship. God with us is the promise of Christmas.