Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Day Before Christmas Eve

The world is tired today.

I went shopping for some last-minute Christmas gifts (read: most of them).  The shelves in the stores are in disarray and half-empty, the cashiers are strained and tired from working long shifts, and the shoppers, so many shoppers, harried and brusque, annoyed by the crowds of which they're a part, focused on finding that last item that will make Christmas Day perfect for them or a loved one.

I had to stop by the welfare office, too, and everyone there was grumpy.  The security guard was grumpy because one of the gentlemen inside had parked his electric wheelchair in the wrong place, the gentleman was grumpy because she told him so, and the lady behind the desk was very grumpy indeed because apparently you can't be intelligent enough to be an online tutor and still have trouble understanding your government paperwork, and if you say you do then it means you are most likely a fraud and are trying to rip off the government.

It's such an unpleasant, embarrassing place to have to be, especially this time of year.  I wanted to buy everyone there a hot chocolate and tell them it would be okay.  (Except maybe the lady behind the desk who made me cry, she might just get a chocolate ball or something.)  And the shoppers, and the workers in the shops, and the old men who stand on the street corner downtown or at the edge of the highway with hats in their hands, begging.  I'd like to buy hot chocolate for the whole world and tell it things will be okay.

But I can't, and they won't.  This world is too broken even for all of the hot chocolate to fix.  When I ask God a million times a day if everything will be okay, I know it won't.  There will still be things that hurt, and people that cry, or die, or hurt themselves or other people.  Even Christmas Day won't be perfect, despite all our efforts to make it so.  One person in my family will snap at another, or burn the gravy, or spill wine on their new shirt.  Someone will cry.  Somewhere, someone we don't know will die, or hurt himself or someone else and be so very not okay, even though we all want so badly for this time of year to be happy for everybody.

After River Song gave up all her regenerations to bring the Doctor back to life, Amy asked if she'd be okay.  And the Doctor replied with one of my favorite quotes ever--he said, "No."

"She'll be amazing."

We're never going to be okay.  I'm not, you're not, nobody is.  Okay is for stuffed animals, mannequins, and the smiling people on billboards: things that can't hurt, and can't love or hope or be happy either, because they have no feelings.

But amazing?  That, we are.  Not because of anything we've done, but because we are.  With all our capacity for hurt and love and hope and joy, we choose to keep on being.  We don't let the hurt, the not-okayness, have the last word--partly because we're a bunch of stubborn idiots, and partly because we have something better than okayness to hope for.

Jesus wasn't okay.  Things went wrong for Him from beginning to end.  And when things go wrong here, when someone snaps or spills the wine or burns the gravy, I think He smiles.

"Here," He says.  "I came up with this stuff.  It's called hot chocolate.  Try some."

"You'll love it," He says.  "It's amazing."

And we do.  And it is.

And so are we.

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