Christmas music has the great ability to touch us at a depth, that the music of other seasons never seems to reach. At least, that is my experience. The soaring music of Handels Messiah leaves one breathless, lost in silent wonder. A definite religious experience. We are taken to a place of awe, and mystery. You know you are in the presence, of the sacred . Not too many radio stations broadcast that music, on a regular basis. Thank God a few do. What reaches our ears is the more homey, down to earth music, which speaks to us, of our everyday needs, and wants. It is that which speaks to us of the journey of the human heart. This reaches us as well, and brings us in touch with the everyday living, of the everyday person. It too, is sacrament, in the broad understanding of the word.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is, “I'll be home for Christmas”. It speaks of the deep cry of the human heart, for the hearth where one is warm, safe, cozy, and above all , loved. That song, I read recently, is second only to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. I have not been home for Christmas in 47 years, yet when I hear that song something awakens within. To go home for Christmas is a physical impossibility, for me, as there is no home to go to, or is there? Hold on to that.
Someone has written "Home is a magical word. Within that mystical circle are comforts and warmth never found outside it". That is why the other song I like is “There is No Place Like Home for the Holidays". Christmas and home go together like, milk and cookies, pie and ice cream. The memories home and Christmas engender are thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which seen to ease the ache within the human heart. To know one is going to a home is great. When that home is your own, that is even better. When one is AT home, in the place one calls home, that is the ultimate destination. That is, “the Pearl of Great Price”.
We all seek, and search to have the sanctuary of a home, where we can experience safety, warmth and security. Now it seems, as never before, humankind is in search of that place, where the homeless part, can rest safe and secure. This can only come from within. Home is deep within each one of us. We cannot buy it. It cannot be paid for. It is Free, yes, Free.
When we think of home, and of homecoming, we are enlivened by the thought of being welcomed and cared for. There is that wonder-full feeling you can now rest, and relax. Everything is going to be okay. As a matter of fact as I write this, I am reminded of what it was like to go home, when both my Dad and Mom were alive. They would pick me up at Shannon airport. When I got to Castlemartyr, there was that famous Irish breakfast waiting for me, comprised of bangers [sausages], rashers [bacon], eggs, fried tomatoes, and brown bread and strong tea. After the meal,
Then it was off to bed! I can still recall the feeling of being at peace, warm and secure in that bed. What a luxuary to be in bed and enjoying a hot water bottle, in June.!!!! I would not be home for Christmas, so I experienced Christmas in June or so I thought at that time. The reality was I was able to experience some of the aspects of The Season. A fuller and more complete understanding was to come in time, and at a price.
My journey to my Bethlehem has been through the valley of darkness. Through the valley of pain, loss, abuse, abandonment, depression, alienation, loneliness. As you journey through all of that, you are emptied out of any ability to do anything. The only thing you can do is fall on your knees, literally or figuratively, and cry out from the depths, the words of the psalm,
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me" and “Out of the depths I cry to you o Lord, Lord hear my voice". That is repeated again and again. Then in time, there is a little break in the darkness. A little light breaks through. A very small, oh so very small ray of hope , enters to tell you it will be okay, not easy but okay. It is true, that no matter how long the night, or how dark at night, dawn always breaks! Life begins to happen again. The light becomes clearer, to reveal that Bethlehem has been visited and a Savior has been welcomed. There is the home one never leaves. There is home that is always there to visit, a home never to be destroyed. It cannot be destroyed by wars, whatever the forces the physical or spiritual can throw against it. There is a home of safety, security, warmth, and tenderness. There the gentle, but firm grasp of the Child will take hold of you and never will let go. "O Holy Night... When Christ was Born."
So then, Advent is all about, the humility, to honestly bring who we really are, just as we are, to prayer. We offer our broken selves, to be doers of God’s will, and be prepared to pay the price. We welcome the transforming, and transfiguring power of God, into our own personal darkness. We welcome AGAIN and AGAIN a PERSONAL Savior into your own place of powerlessness. It is there, you will experience the death of the ego, the excruciating pain you experience, is in reality, the BIRTHING pains of your true self, The CHRIST CHILD within you. Mary is now your reality.