Before my skin grew tight around the noise and clutter of life,
before I felt sharp the heavy of shoulds and musts and deadlines and expectations and bills,
when I was young enough still for time to stretch long and spacious like the hallway
where I rolled pretty glass marbles to hear them clatter and ping on wood,
I fell in love.
It was this time of year and there were candles. And deeply moving music.
And a tree brought indoors and decorated with brightly colored glass bulbs
and shiny strings of foil my mother called icicles,
although they weren’t frozen or even cold.
I lay for hours beneath that sweet-smelling tree
and gazed up into the twinkling branches.
I also spent hours outside after dark, even though it was barely evening.
The stars came out early to shine, and the moon,
and it seemed the heavens drew near as I climbed my favorite tree
wrapped thick in the mystery of night.
I’d look up at the stars and wonder aloud who are you,
the One to inspire such beauty as this,
moonlight on bare branches and the songs and stories been humming in my heart.
I wondered at the love I felt poured out safe and warm like fireside
high up in that tree,
wondered would it follow me down and inside when I finally had to leave.
I lay in my bed at night and felt it still, when I would lean the turn of my heart
into this unseen light that still lingered like moonglow in the dark
and how my heart would dance.
Here I’d never felt so alright. As if everything could only ever be okay.
These times of soaking in what I know only as God-love
lasted for a short season. My first window.
A place where I could go, if I would, and remember thick the presence I felt those winter nights
and somehow re-join the relish
in a room inside myself.
The rest of the world could feel harsh and cold. And lonely.
We did church, my family, and I’d walk into that organ-smooth and dimly lit grandeur
and look up at the large wooden cross stretched sterile against the tall of the ceiling
and wonder if he, too, preferred the crisp air high in the tree.
Here I felt sting more than sanctuary.
An undercurrent of you better watch out.
A Santa sort of God who saw me, yes, but withheld when I was bad.
Or worse – withdrew.
And I was born a hungry sort who didn’t do well with rules. Too fumbly and footloose.
When it came to things straight and narrow, I could pull off a piss-poor performance, at best.
I knew I wasn’t that girl – couldn’t be good for goodness sake.
But oh my God I longed for more of this generous presence that lit my heart under those bright winter stars.
Had the air really been charged with such a kindness? What kind of love was that?
As I grew older and fell into step with demand for appearances and favors doled out,
I wondered had I only imagined?
No, said the voices of my fears –
I’d simply stopped deserving,
the river just gone dry.
“Holiness is nothing we can do. It is gift, sheer gift,
waiting there to be recognized and received.
We do not have to be qualified.”
– Madeline L’Engle
This begins a little series I’m doing as it’s coming on Christmas.
A love story.
With hope that you’ll enjoy:)