Or, so I thought...
Within hours, my mood changed. I am not sure exactly why. Nothing drastic happened. In fact, the morning was quite ordinary. Looking back, that may have been what set me off.
I wanted extraordinary. Extraordinary energy to plough through mountains of clutter and unfinished tasks that I did not want to carry into the new liturgical year, much less through Christmas and into the new calendar year. Extraordinary love to pour into my marriage, which the weekend had made apparent needs some extra attention. Extraordinary confidence that I have prepared my heart, my children's hearts and, perhaps, my husband's hearts, too for the season that awaits us.
Yet, as I looked around my home -- and inside myself -- the extraordinary simply seemed nowhere to be found. I was stuck in the mire of my own physical and figurative messes.
So, mere hours after waking, my eager, Christmas-is-coming-and-this-day-holds-such-promise attitude fizzled. Eagerness, motivation and merriment evaporated. Peace was nowhere in sight. Darkness set upon me.
I realized I was tired. Disappointed in myself. Feeling as if my marriage, my home and my heart were impossibly unprepared for Christmas. I felt sad.
I didn't want my children to feel sad as well. So, I set the kids down with a bite to eat and told them Mommy needed a shower, whereupon I went into the bathroom and cried as the water poured down on me.
Yes, I cried. And cried. And cried.
I thought I was done doing so, but as I toweled myself dry, I still felt less than cleansed by the shower and cry I had had. So, I called my mom, who is always generous with her listening ear and unconditional love.
While talking to Mom, I cried again. I confessed that I did not really want Christmas to come. (Isn't that horrendous?!) I felt too unprepared. I bemoaned the irony that for so many years as an "old" Singleton, I had cried at Christmastime because I so badly wanted a home, husband and children, and yet, there I was crying because I am so inept with what I had prayed for for so many years. Maybe God had a reason for not blessing me with marriage and family earlier...
Mom listened. She loved. She encouraged.
I began to feel better and my children began to need my more direct attention. So, I got off the phone, mustered a small smile and went on with the day with my children.
Still, as the noon hour neared, I felt pretty hopeless again. I felt lost in the mundane and so far from making room for the miraculous. And, that is when I accepted defeat -- defeat, thankfully, laced with promise.
As I wrote on my personal Facebook page, "And this is the moment when I realize that I failed at preparing my home and my heart for Christmas this year - not to mention failing at many other things. Luckily, light shines despite my failings," I meant it. Despite my own personal feelings of defeat, I knew that light shines.
And, now, looking back at the afternoon and evening, I see so many places where that light shone through my inner darkness. Where simple moments and praiseworthy relationships signaled hope, joy and love.
- My children's laughter as they watched the Grinch, which I put on to keep them busy while I did a few chores.
- My husband pulling up the road, home from work early, as I went out in the rain to fetch the mail.
- My children not having to "keep busy" as I made my way through a pile of clutter, but
thrilled to learn how to play "War" with Daddy, who was home with us.
- My oldest, so eager to make his third confession that he ran into the church and knocked on the confessional door. (Sorry to the man who was in there making his own confession at the time. There was no light on to say you were.)
- My husband's willingess to go to confession for the first time in a long time at my son's (and my) urging and the smile it brought my son (and, hopefully, the peace it brought my husband).
- Our parish pastor offering a meaningful homily at the Mass we went to as a family after confession. He exudes joy and gratitude.
- New friends and old who responded to my Facebook post with understanding and encouragement, evidencing God's love pouring forth to me in hard-to-miss black-and-white.
- A late night moment of quiet to silently cry once more, purging small vestiges of sadness that were still within me and welcoming gratitude in.
- My children, my dear children, who slept in this morning, allowing me some quiet time to get a few more household things in order and to reflect for another, giving thanks and preparing my heart further for Christmas.
- My husband, who is willingly off to work today and who will need to work on part of Christmas day. He has his own struggles, as do we as a couple, but he is committed to us and loves us so much. I am so grateful for that. He remains an answer to a long-said prayer of mine and now my prayer transforms to allow our marriage to be all that God wants it to be.
- Our Lord, who CHOSE to come live the mundane so as to help each of us move to the miraculous one day. Yes, He CHOSE what I too often chagrin. How humbling is that? How encouraging? How beautiful!
Jesus came. He lived with us. He still does. He lives in each of us when we invite Him to do so. And He awaits our welcome when, for whatever reason, the inns (and outs) of our daily lives cause us to overlook Him.
Lord, thank you for being there for us in Heaven and on earth. Thank you for being there for me -- and in me. And in those I know.
I am sorry for every time I fail to welcome you. I am sorry for every time I get so caught up in the mundane that I lose sight of the miraculous. I am sorry for each moment that I fail to let your light shine through me to others.
I am ever grateful for the fact that even when I stumble in darkness, you remain steadfast for me, and for everyone.
This morning, I thank you for the quiet I had and for the joy with which my children woke up, asking, "Is it Christmas yet?" And, then, bouncing with anticipation as one shouted with joy, "One more day until Christmas!"
Thank you for gifting me time to wait. In hope. In expectation. In gratitude.
Thank for for offering me quiet time to pray for myself and for others, that no matter how we may be feeling -- merry, lonely, exhausted, excited, afraid or otherwise -- we may also understand that Love IS there. Light shines. Promises are kept. Joy awaits.
May each of us breathe in a meaningful Christmas.
And, shine with joy!
(as my Nina is fabulously exemplifying this morning!)