Trimming our family Christmas tree has always been a sacred experience for me. As I open each box and remove an eclectic variety of homemades and hand-me-downs, pricey porcelain and play-doh cut-outs, I’m reminded what a precious gift my 47 years of life has been.
One ornament was made by my mother when she was 7 years old; many have been made by our children. Some are so precious to me, I find myself stopping and reliving moments: my daughter’s crocheted baby slippers, my son’s tissue paper “stained glass” that he made in preschool. There are plenty of ornaments that mark moments in my past; former jobs and ministries, significant people – every stage of my little life, really. As I hang each ornament, I utter a quiet prayer of gratitude for that part of my past. I ask God to bless the student, the lover, the friend, the sister who gave me that angel, that apple, that pinecone bird. I’d like to think that there are people I’ve loved somewhere thinking of me when they hang my gifts on their trees.
Our three children each have their own special ornaments that they dutifully hang on the tree each year. They are building their own memories and enriching mine.
Sitting by our tree at night with only the white lights lighting the room, I feel surrounded by love and reassurance. Growing older feels like a blessing, not a fear; if I’ve been so blessed thus far, what more do I have to look forward to?!
I’m pretty sure that when folks use the language of “God’s plan” or “God’s will”, it’s not so much that God has it all mapped out for me. On the contrary, I think the twists and turns we take in life show that, for me, God is so much more interested in inviting me to co-create my future, than God is in seeing if I figure out a preset message. In the cocktail-party conversations that go on in my brain about destiny or chance, God’s plan or my choices, sitting at night by our Christmas tree stills my mind and reminds me that I believe ever more deeply that my life is truly unfolding as it should.
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