Headlines declare the truce in Israel has come “to an explosive end.” My mind jerks back to the plate I bargained for in the silent auction at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. I know my $25 will go to a good cause this Christmas. The plate was hand made in Jerusalem, beautiful coloured glass outlining features of this city I have loved and visited. How are those we knew doing in the midst of all the turmoil? I remember how chilly it was in the shepherds’ fields near Bethlehem on Christmas Eve in 1995 when we made our pilgrimage with our children to fulfill their wish on our way to missionary life in Uganda. No donkey bore us there. We took the tourist bus, glad to be safe from the mobs in Nativity Square celebrating a messiah in a keffiya, that leader now dead whose words did not give life.
The radio interview with a family therapist gives wise counsel about family system issues that are likely to crop up at Christmas gatherings. I reflect upon my learning in my counselling training, flashing forward a few years to the time when I will sit with people and help them sort out their deep personal issues that keep them imprisoned in negative patterns. I hope to be someone who will give life to others through my words.
I sit at the car repair garage, wrestling with the latest verdict about my computer controlled newest secondhand car. Several hundred dollars will replace a heat sensor and allow the Check Engine light to go off again. I mutter to the mechanics that I really belong in the middle ages with a horse and buggy.
We send photos to friends in Africa of our family standing in deep snow in our back yard by the Muskoka River. How will they spend Christmas? Much as they did when we lived among them, going to church, maybe having some meat in their usual routine meal, maybe not. Sharing a few cards among friends, but no tree, no old family dishes, lace tablecloths, special turkey on a platter such as we will share this year, with friends and family. Their candles are more likely to be needed for light than for the decorative effect I will create.
I listen enthralled in a pew in an Ontario village, feasting on selections from The Messiah by the choir at my nephew’s college. The maestro celebrates the timelessness of the words and music, for him, for us all, citing the thousands upon thousands of times he has conducted these songs in his relatively young life. Mural paintings depicting the Holy Family and the saints cover the high walls like elegant wrapping paper. I muse upon this explosion of life giving words, music and art in a humble snowy village in the depth of Canadian winter.
My daughter writes an essay on the much ignored world issue of the death every day of preventable diseases of more than 26,000 children. We speculate together on the world responses and causes – indifference? corruption? ignorance? confusion? How do I respond? How can I sort it out in my own heart? Where and how can I give life in the face of such odds? How do I put it together this Christmas?
Life giving words come through the car CD player as I navigate the latest snowfall.
I’ve looked for love in so many places
Trying to find out where I belong
Wandering through this barren land of longing
Looking for the place called home, a place called home.
You said “Come to Me all you who are so weary
And you will find true rest for your souls”
Lord, let these words of life speak into my heart
Anywhere I am I can be home.
You are my home, You’re my true home
I am safe inside the shelter of Your love;
You are my home, You’re my true home,
I am free to be child once again.
Oh, I ‘m free in You.
You are my one true destination
The place I eternally belong.
You made me from the earth and then You breathed into me life
Redeemed from my sin and brought me home.
My heart is restless, till it rests in You
My heart is restless, till it rests in You.
Until I dwell in You
Until I find my home in You.
Brian Doerksen “You are My Home”