I went to yoga this morning with the intention of slowing down and resting on my mat. Our teacher had something different in mind. So many vinyasas and twists and balances… lots of deep breathing and sweating too. This was not the calm, restful Christmas Eve morning I had planned for myself.
But, while building the heat in our bodies and in the room, Kevin talked about gratitude for what 2018 offered us. He talked about turning away from what no longer serves us and turning toward what 2019 will offer. He talked about shining loving kindness knowing that someday, in someway, that love will be returned.
And so, I’m choosing to turn toward… toward compassion and grace, toward what may be and what can be.
Without going too far into someone else’s story without their permission, I can say I was struggling to go to my church’s Christmas Eve service tonight because of baby Jesus. In the reenactment of the Nativity story, baby Jesus will be played by the son of one of my former youth. And, let’s just say, I’ve struggled internally with her situation. So, when I found out her son would be in the service, I made up my mind not to attend. I didn’t want to be faced with all of that on Christmas Eve.
And then I remembered: Jesus didn’t exactly come into this world in the most traditional way. He was born to a mother who really didn’t understand how this all came about. He was raised by a man who trusted but, I suspect, often wondered. Were there other young women in her town bitter that she got pregnant? Had Elizabeth not had a miracle of her own, would she have resented Mary when she showed up at her front door with a swollen belly?
And then I remembered something else: In the end, this story was about Jesus, not about Mary. Yes, she played an important role, but she wasn’t the leading star. The story is about Jesus — about God With Us, about Love Come Down.
Perhaps my focus has been on the wrong person, on the mother instead of the child.
So, for days I’ve been trying to figure out where we’d go to church. None of the solutions felt right. But going to my church didn’t feel right either. I felt stuck and confused, but also really needing to be in a sacred space with music and candles on Christmas Eve. I need to be holding a candle during Silent Night — I need to raise that candle and watch the Light Overcome the Darkness during Joy to the World.
Yesterday after church a former youth, a high school senior, asked if I was coming to the Christmas Eve service. I said probably not and her faced dropped a bit as she said, I’m going to be Mary! Then, as I was leaving the building another former youth, now in his mid-20s, asked if I would be there the next night… maybe.
Their Christmas won’t be ruined if I don’t show up tonight, but I was reminded of the importance of our relationships in those short conversations. I was reminded of the role I’ve played in their lives and them in mine. I was reminded that a short Nativity scene reenactment is only a small part of the service. I was reminded that it’s not always about me…
My infertility still makes me sad sometimes. It never goes away completely. It’s part of who I am. But, through my journey of healing, I’m learning that turning toward usually makes for a better story than turning away. When I turn toward my sadness or my grief, I find gems of truth I wouldn’t have seen or heard had if I turned away. When I turn toward the new mothers, offering them a congratulations, I’m letting my light shine a little brighter while the bitterness fades. When I turn toward a Christmas Eve service that might be a little painful, I’m reminding myself that community is important, that I can do hard things.
Some people may not understand what the big deal is. Some people may think I’m petty or overthinking it. That’s okay — let them think what they think. Rather than turning away from them, I’ll turn toward… I’ll let my heart shine love and light on them knowing that someday, in someway, that love and light will return to me.