I finally got around to taking my Christmas tree down this week. I could tell you I’d left it up because I was busy, but that would be a lie. The reality was, I wanted to enjoy it a little more. I’m not sure why, but Christmas trees just make me feel warm like my house is somehow more hospitable, welcoming, or perhaps it reminded me that my house is, in fact, a home.
My mom sent me a box filled with ornaments, some of them I had never seen before, but many brought memories of my child rushing back in. I remembered loving so many of them as a child. The ornaments always acted as little portals for my imagination, transporting me to far off places. For a reason, that I do not fully understand, my favorite was a little basket of blueberries by happenstance, or perhaps because my mom is more perceptive than I give her credit for, this was included in the box. As I pulled the ornaments from the tree, I looked at it and smiled, unsure why it held such a special place in my heart.
Amongst the ornaments was a box with three little glass angels. She had sent a few glass ornaments, and I enjoyed looking at them as I placed them on my tree. As I filled the tree with these ornaments I remembered dinner at a friend’s house and watching their youngest daughter terrorize the ornaments she could reach. I wondered how many of the fragile ornaments my mom had sent could withstand such love.
As I removed the 3 angels from the tree, carefully placing them into their box, their home for roughly 340 days of the year, I realized that they represented “faith, hope, and love” the greatest of these is Love, my mind finished the thought without having to read it. For some reason, I hadn’t noticed that each of the angels held their own symbol representing faith, hope, or love.
There’s so many mysteries in the faith, so many passages of scripture that I’ve wrestled with. Some of these passages I opted to ignore for long periods of my life, not letting them lead my belief or theology. There came a point in my life that deep in my heart I knew that I had to listen to them, letting them shape my beliefs. That I had to wrestle with the parts I don’t like.
I’ve seen friends make the opposite choice that I did, and I often wonder why. They are good and kind people, passionate about living their lives well so I can’t disparage their choices. I suppose it just surprises me and makes me curious, why does one person take the path to the right, while another takes the one to the left and is one really less traveled? I suppose to the lonely soul meandering down the path, theirs always seems to be the quieter of the two.
As I boxed up the angels I thought about faith, hope, and love, about the greatest of these and why, in the end, only love will remain. Of course, only love will remain, because we will no longer need to hope or have faith, because all the things we had faithfully hoped for will be fulfilled. All of our sorrows and hardships will be put away, replaced with the joy of walking in the Lord only. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
I have been pensive and perhaps a little disappointed about the twists and turns of life as of late. I know I have been given more than I deserve and my vocation is becoming clearer each day. Yet, clarity is only in the end, not the means.
As I write I can look out my office window towards snowy mountains. Birds and squirrels dance by periodically across my deck. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and very good.
I had read a blog post earlier about the correlation between suffering and sanctification and I think the author was on to something. I think for the Christian there needs to be a constant tension between contentment and longing. Contentment with our blessings and a longing for the future hope, a longing for the love that can only be fulfilled when all of time is fulfilled.
My tree is in the brush pile now. A part of me wanted the tree on fire. There is something strangely satisfying about that. I knew that it was a juvenile desire and that there would be some people who would have been displeased, so into the pile it went. By winter’s end, it will be brown, more an idea of a Christmas tree, than the actual thing.
Winter is half spent and will be over before I know it. So much unknown, so much beauty. There is much to hope for, even in the cold of winter. Soon the buds will blossom, life will return to the brown trees outside my office, and the earth will spin around the sun another time.