Monday, December 21, 2009

The Magic of Imperfection

Is anyone else frazzled?

A nor’easter made my home look like an Irving Berlin musical. It is the first time I remember seeing this much snow before Christmas. The tree is set, the treats are baked, I survived last week’s holiday party, the gifts (at least some) are wrapped and under the tree, we have plans with loved ones, and the Christmas lights reflect on immaculate ground. Everything is perfect.

Except me. I’m exhausted by trying to treasure this holiday time.

Then I remembered that the holiday season isn’t about perfection. I know that goes against almost every marketing campaign you’ve seen. At least, it does for me. I am told it is supposed to be the time we come closest to tranquility, peace, selfless concern, or at the least, not wanting to rip out the throat of the woman holding up the grocery store line so long the eggnog curdles in my hand.

The oil burned in the Temple for eight days though there was only enough for one. That is the miracle. Defilement, revolt, scarcity, and the threat of darkness were parts of the imperfect situation that gave it opportunity.

A baby was born in a backyard barn to scandalous parents. There is nothing idyllic about going into labor between a molting hen and a braying jackass. What about the baby? It was probably a shriveled, squalling, indignant thing. It was probably a while before Mary ever had a silent night.

But, if you believe as I do, this baby was divinity wrapped in the troubles of humanity. It didn’t look like perfection. Nothing in the child’s life would be what we would call idyllic.

Both situations, both causes of celebrations, are a reminder to me of how adversity accompanied a miracle. They celebrate magic that was cloaked by brutality and opposition but persisted and gave hope. In the mundane there was a spark of eternity.

When you look past the December trappings and life’s blemishes, what magic do you see?

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