“I do not know how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” ~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
“That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” ~ Charles de Lint
I was in desperate need of some magic this Christmas Eve.
I don’t know what happened… somehow, despite Thanksgiving to mark the beginning of the holiday season, the various parties, and my annual wrestling match with the holiday letter, Christmas itself crept up on me – or ambushed me… I kept thinking, “I don’t know how we got here so fast.”
There was need in the air, and, somehow, all those self care things that I know make such a difference had all been tossed to the wayside… I was burnt out trying to fulfill the demand. I cried… a LOT…. not necessarily about anything in particular; it just seemed to take very little to tip me over into tears of one kind or another.
What? You thought we healer types had this all nailed down? HELL NO! We’re caretaking human beings – our natural inclination is to give to others before we give to ourselves– it’s a constant battle to make ourselves a priority… this is why we understand so well when others struggle with the same issue – Pot advising Kettle, that’s what THAT is! 😉
So I was worn down, in need of a recharge, and scraping the bottom of the joy barrel just to get on an airplane and go home.
I have a memory of one Christmas Eve – in a church full of warm wood and candlelight, a beautiful soprano sings O, Holy Night – a musical remembrance of one of her own childhood Christmases passed on to me… it was magic…
And very few Christmas Eve’s have lived up to it…
But I needed this one to, and my need made me fearful.
I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough candles, that the music would be weird (the Unitarians are champions at pulling out obscure tunes that no one has heard since they were written), that the choir would be off key (they frequently are), that the message would be focused on the ordinary (I love, Love, LOVE the minister, but I just couldn’t connect the year the sermon focused on her rain coat), that people from my past would, out of their love, make demands that I couldn’t fulfill.
And it made me – ever so slightly – bitchy…
I was still kvetching as we pulled up in front of the church… “I just need some f”ing MAGIC,” I growled for about the hundredth time.
The greeters at the door smiled and wished me a Merry Christmas. One, who I’ve known since childhood, hugged me. The hall was filled with soft beautiful piano music, and the flowers and evergreen branches scented candle lit space.
I closed my eyes and breathed.
And then the choir filed in… I inwardly cringed, setting my face in an effort not to react to the wrong notes I knew were coming…
But it was beautiful… simple… words of hope, and faith, and love, and trust that light would come again.
And I started to weep… I wept all the way through that first song, straight through the Alleluia, and into the first reading – done beautifully by a young woman from the congregation who is studying to be a minister, a young woman I have known practically since birth… I wept my exhaustion, my fear, my joy that this beautiful being had found her calling.
When the choir returned, I found myself profoundly grateful for the missed notes – they gave me a chance to pull myself together… oy!
“What is wrong with you?” My poor mother asked, both concern and a slight giggle dancing in her eyes.
And the sermon… all about losing touch with the season, about finding grace in the midst of things not going as we planned, of peace on earth, good will towards men, and, please, let it begin with me…
I wept – eyes streaming, nose running, not a tissue in sight… my mom leaned over and suggested I use my pashmina which almost reduced me to howling with laughter on the floor…
After the sermon, the offertory – I handed my mother a not insignificant amount of money.
“Oh, no!” she said, “I’ve got it.”
“Mom,” I replied, crying, giggling, snotting, “I needed some friggin’ magic, and I got it in spades. Pay the lady her money!”
And I ran for the bathroom where I proceeded to cry a little more, use up all the paper in the stalls, replace all the rolls so no one would be left without, and then, hanging onto my emotions by the fingernails, return to the service just in time to hear Maya Angelou’s Christmas poem, which set me off all over again.
And finally, Silent Night sung while a flame was passed through the congregation. Each person lighting the candle of the person beside them, till the whole room was alight, and each person glowed soft and beautiful… faces full of love, full of hope, full of faith, full of trust.
And mine among them.
My Christmas spirit, landing as most miracles do, just in the nick of time… a reminder that grace comes not so much when we want it to, but when we are in such need that we cannot help but surrender to it.
Grace… grace, at last this holiday season.
“Grace is the face that love wears when it meets imperfection.”~ Joseph R. Cooke