Always Winter, Never Christmas
The description, to my mind, is apt, if not for the dead, then for the living. When I am wracked with sin or tormented by my failings, static is how I feel. That I will never change, that I cannot change. There is no hope, no future, only an everlasting present of pain, sorrow, disappointment, despair, anger, bitterness, etc. In these moments, I often find that, although I rationally know that they can't go on forever, I can't really believe that. I am stuck in a pattern of sin, because it is all that I know how to do, all I can do. I am inert.
Winter is my least favorite of the seasons (perhaps because I grew up in Florida). While I enjoy snowfall as much as anyone (I had a branch president on my mission tell me that "winter covers all our sins in white"), eventually the vantage point changes to a miasma of dirt, grime, ice, and soot. There is no hidden sin here as the white brings out all the spotty rotten color of the world and it is all a dull-gray muddy brown. There is no joy here.
And then we get Christmas. I know some people complain because Christ very probably wasn't born on Christmas and that we are actually celebrating a pagan holiday. I know that some people believe that Christian aspects of of Christmas are being swallowed up in the consumerism of our national day of spending. But I don't buy it.
So long as Christmas exists, then here is hope, joy, and peace in the midst of despair. A reason to smile on a dark, dreary plain. A warm spark in the twilight, frozen world wherein our dirt and filth is shown back to us in high contrast. It gives us light in the midst of the darkest part of our year.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Rabbit Hill. Naturally, I read its sequel, The Tough Winter. I hated it. The nice bunnies and other denizens of Rabbit Hill were being put through such a tough time and I couldn't understand why. In the midst of it came Christmas. Some kind soul laid out a feast for the starving denizens of Rabbit Hill, who hadn't eaten for so long.
Christmas is our feast, a reminder of the true bread and the true water that came down to feed us. It is a gift, given us by kind caretakers and good providers. In the wake of the recent movie, many critics have dryly noted that Father Christmas provides the Pevensies with weapons. But Christmas is a weapon, an opportunity to fight back at the dark that envelops us and gain a little breathing room that can last until the coming of spring, signalled by the commemoration of the death of He whose birth we celebrate today. It is appropriate, perhaps necessary, that the winter of our discontent be broken midway by a reminder of He who broke its back.
I know that we are all at different stages in our spiritual lives, but I get the impression that we are all believers. Please, use Christmas as a moment to celebrate that which is good and useful in the world and revel in the knowledge that winter, in life as in Narnia, will eventually end and the sun and flowers will shine upon us again.
Posted by John C.