Yesterday, this post ran on my publisher’s blog and I was very apprehensive. I really had a difficult time writing a piece this week and I still feel it is entirely inadequate. But after having several requests that I run it on my own blog, I’m posting it here. I encourage you to leave a comment and I hope it brings a little comfort by its honesty, although I wish I were a wiser woman. Love to you all.
I don’t feel like writing this blog. I want to cuddle up with my kids. I want to hibernate for winter. I want to make cookies and memories and watch sweet movies and tell stories under the covers. I want to stay home. I want to listen to my husband snore beside me in the wee hours. I want to be safe. I want to know they are safe. I don’t want to take any chances. That’s what this week did to me. Probably to almost everyone. It’s a shame because I’d already started tinkering with the beginnings of a post with a kind of reflective tone about the season. It was pretty smart, actually, a few days ago. Now, it’s a bunch of bologna. It’s shallow and naïve. And I just can’t seem to get back to that line of thinking. I can’t cough up any nostalgia or humor or even a Bah Humbug. I’m almost forty-one years old and I just lost a little more of my innocence. I mean, we are lucky to live where we live in America, aren’t we? That we have any innocence left to lose is an absolute miracle, right? But terrifying, too.
But none of that changes the fact that I have to post something because I agreed to the job weeks ago. I said I would do it and I sit here pondering my inability to wax poetic or even work up something of a little Christmas sermon. Usually, I’m good for at least a paragraph or two on such things. Not this time. But I’ll tell you, my brain has fixated on this one question since Friday afternoon when I was sitting at my laptop, trying to write this blog and was interrupted by the reminder of madness and sorrow in the world. And I don’t have a good answer. I just keep wondering about it and maybe I feel like I’d rather not wonder about it all alone, so I’m going to stick this question in your brain, too.
I wonder, if I’d seen that star, would I have had the courage to follow it? That Christmas star. Say there were angels, or maybe say we just had a flask we’d been passing around, me and you other stinky shepherds, and we THOUGHT we heard somebody or something. Maybe we just wanted an excuse to get off the hill. Whatever. The point is, would I have done it? Or would I have only told all you other dare-devil shepherds to settle down and gone back to counting sheep?
Would I have stayed put, hanging out on hilltops, farting and telling bad jokes, out of fear? Would I have convinced you all to ignore the whole heavenly host thing because really, what would a bunch of shepherds know about what’s over the river and through the woods? There is evil out there and I don’t just mean wolves. And everybody knows that visions and messages and signs and journeys are a very dangerous business. In a world like this, who would ever risk it? Because seriously, this weekend, that’s how I’m feeling. Like hiding out.
The thing is, I know there are miracles. One of them is that I haven’t lost all my metaphorical sheep by now. I have taken some chances, gone down roads unknown and seen there’s more to the world than sheep. Good things. Wonderful things. I’ve seen what can happen when I come down off the hill, for good or bad, and I know that after some journeys, the truth is that for good or bad, you’ll never be the same. After this week, I’ll never be the same. No one will. But does that mean I never leave the hill again?
Maybe the only way those shepherds ever had the courage to face that star – everything it meant or could mean and everything that it demanded of them – was simply because they did it all together. They trembled together and stood there knowing life is a marvelous, fragile thing, but perhaps there’s more to know than we can comprehend. I need that to be true this Christmas. Because what we find when we follow a star is light. And in light, we are made wise. The brightest gifts of the human race are illuminated: love, faith, forgiveness. Hope.
So what I want to know is this: Do we lose the star if we dare stop looking for it? Or can we still see it, even now, a constant? A miracle? I’m looking for it. And I’m searching for the courage to follow it. I hope you are, too. There’s room on the hillside. You can stand by me.