Breaking Faith

Sometimes the warm embrace of Christmas carries with it weight of such unbearable charge that it’s hard to be happy, jolly or even optimistic. The biting years gather at night and they climb the walls, drowning you in a cold chill of memory and time, age and decay.

You learn to survive, of course. You have to. Otherwise the slow but sure petrification of the edges of your heart start knocking at the outer reaches of your own life. The harder you become, the harder it is for others to love you. The ice-cold stone that outlines your heart protects you, yes. Cold comfort in hot winds of turmoil, grief and despair. You can take it and overcome it. You need not feel it. You need not relate it–only let it deflect off of you, living in the more shallow reaches of what makes it easier: possessions and position.

I fight it, as do you. I work at the edges-a stonemason chipping away the sharp edges of hard rock working diligently not to hit the soft tissues, keeping the blood flowing to the right places, but not overflowing. Not a sculpture. A reckoning.

So much sin and loss. So much hopeless and hapless confusion and so little time to order it, organize it and place it on the proper shelves in the neglected attic of memory where it can do no more harm. Pelted by the cold hail of familial brokenness and whirled like a leaf in the hot winds of Autumn and Winter that are remorseless, relentless. Where to begin? Where to chip away at my own slabs of broken and hard edge all the while rolling away the stone of life and love, memory and time.

That still small voice gets lost and aggrandized all at once. It becomes the message and not the messenger and media images, voices of digital reassurance in a graceless age where even the Almighty’s one gift that makes all of this remotely possible, is lost amid the noise. Patriotism overwhelms faith. A culture of selfishness permeates and pulls us into the folds of its warm tentacles and we don’t even resist–nor do we embrace. In fact, our biggest sin is that we don’t do much of anything.

And then a note arrives. A slice of music, a fragment of poetry or memory. A timeless gift that allows us the opportunity to glimpse one thing. It’s not the latest gift or the the leaving piles of wrapping paper. It is the chance to connect with one other person or more than one. It’s a chance to reach across years, miles, loneliness, mistakes, neglect or brokenness and feel the glory of broken humanity. In that moment, we bury the regret and tumult of the stupidity of our own smallness, our own mean-minded regret and a thaw begins. The shale and hard-formed places around our hearts fall away.

Christ seeks this. He has to, doesn’t He? We know there is too much soulless black space. We know there is too much scoffing defiance and wonder-wounded failure. Christ doesn’t simply ignore it. He heals it–he pulls it away, allowing us to see the work He is doing if we will only look at Him. But in our shame, doing so means admitting that what we’ve done thus far is hurting us. Yet in that moment of hurt, acceptance and embrace of all that faith can mean is left to flow through the moment and we exercise it at that moment and freely allow it to flow over us.

The stones of years pulverize into the cosmos and the sadness of days is ethereal and elusive.

May the glory of Christ’s light be with you all. May you fall into it and embrace it and let His care for you subsume you in all that He wants for you.

Merry Christmas