It happened again: the dustpan contained a mixture of dust and dirt and pine needles, about 92 cheerios, and a healthy dose of glitter sprinkled throughout.
It was the prettiest garbage I’d ever seen.
Because when Cara the Optimist looks at the pile, she sees sparkles of glitter peeking through the grime. I’m reminded of the magic of the Christmas season, and the merriment that can be found in the littlest of sweeping details. A smile comes to my face, and I start singing along loudly to Whitney’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” I hear, I hear! My voice carries over the countertop divide to the HBH across the room: Do you hear too, Love? Hear it, hear it!
I am full of Christmas cheer. Nothing’s gonna stop me now.
If you and I were to sit down over a cup of coffee, with the results of the Enneagram personality test before us, you’d come to understand that I’m a 7. Known as The Enthusiast, 7’s are, well, enthusiastic; our basic desire in life is to be satisfied and fulfilled, so with bold and vivacious personalities, we tend to approach life with chutzpah!
We’re like kids in a candy store, exuberantly wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in our approach to others and to life in general. We tend to see beauty in the most unlikely of places. We see the sparkles of glitter shining through the messy garbage pile.
And really, that’s a good and necessary trait we can offer the world.
But seeing and sensing and leaning into Beauty always stands juxtaposed next to the filth and the grime and the muck. The dirt can’t be ignored. Because for a 7, our greatest fear is that we might experience pain. At our unhealthiest, we run from hurt and sorrow and sadness, choosing only focus on the sparkle and the glitter and the tinsel of the holiday season.
But Christmas isn’t all glitter and tinsel.
And today, as I sit with this realization, I choose to see the dirt.
This year, death looms around us: another baby lost, another young man with “so much potential” taken. We see the pain caused by the loss of relationship, the loneliness and heartache; we hear the cries of lost health and its subsequent companion, freedom. We scream WHY?!, not just with a question mark at the end of the sentence, but with an exclamation point, too.
Because we don’t get it. We don’t understand why Death always seems to stand next to Life, why the cycle of Life and Death, Life and Death, Life and Death spins repetitively in the washing machine.
We want our mouths to perfectly formulate the right words to say, but void of any Christian accolade, barren of formulaic consolations.
Because these deaths, this pain, this sorrow, didn’t happen for a reason. It isn’t my place to pithily insert, God won’t give you anything you can’t handle – especially when I don’t really know what to say, when I’m just saying it because I think these the right words to utter.
But it is my place to be there.
It is my place to mourn with those who mourn, and to rejoice with those who rejoice. Is it my place to be real and present, to enter into the reality of the here and now with those who sit beside me. It is my place to take courage and take heart, resting and sitting and breathing in the God who is here with us, to the One who will make everything wrong right again.
And perhaps that’s right where we’re supposed to sit.
So we take it one day at a time.
We see the sparkles and the glitter and the tinsel, but we take a good, hard look at the dirt and the grime and the muck, too.
We embrace the reality of Light and Darkness, Death and Life, Good and Hard that swims up and down, in and out, day in, day out. And we recognize that it’s especially hard for some of us, for some of our Loved Ones this year.
And we say, we’re here. We’re here with you. We stand with you and we sit by you; we love you and we embrace every part of you.
We hope in the shall to come: we rejoice that haloes of joy will encircle their heads, that they will be welcomed home with gifts of gladness, that all sorrow and signs will scurry into the night.*
Even if the “will” isn’t felt today. Even if the hope and the promise and the embrace is for tomorrow.
You are not alone.
What about you? How do you embrace the good and the hard of the holidays? And how can I be a friend to you today?