The pine tree outside my office window is heavy with snow. Boughs are bent under the weight, some now obscuring my view of the Goldfinches sitting on all six of the perches of the thistle feeder. A Chickadee hops along a branch, setting off into the air little puffs of snow like dust.
It is winter, a season when the radiator in our bedroom remains off most days, so that we need to burrow under covers heavy enough to feel substantial. This morning fingers of frost were drawn across the window, looking like a delicate etching on the glass.
Though only 4 o’clock the sunlight in dimming, ushering in another long evening when candles and music seem just the thing to warm the living room. The tree is in its normal corner, a lovely reminder that Advent is upon us, that nothing matters except that Jesus came and so as a result everything matters.
I grew up in a home where no Christmas tree was allowed. The season was deemed ruined by commercialism, no proof text commanding the celebration of Jesus’ birth could be located in Scripture, and the words of the ancient Hebrew prophet (Jeremiah 10:2-4) were preached as condemning any use of a decorated tree during Advent. Enjoying the season was considered as sign of what was called “carnality,” which meant that one’s religion was considered highly suspect.
How is it possible to be so religious that you miss the entire point of it?
As I write this a little sheep sits on my desk. (The entire story of that can be read and seen here, if that is, you have an account on Facebook.) He regards me solemnly, reminding me of my tendency to wander off as if I know what’s best. Which I don’t, of course—know what’s best I mean. I do wander, unfortunately.
It’s fully dark outside now, and a slight glow from the blue lights on the wreath hung above our front porch colors the snow on the porch roof. It’s time to shut off the music (Wilco), post this, and go downstairs for dinner. I hope we eat in front of the Christmas tree. Not in reaction to the silly fundamentalism of my upbringing, but as a reminder of grace.