Until it began to rain.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone for a walk in the rain and decided there’s no time like the present. More than that … something kind of beckoned and I knew I would miss something if I didn’t follow.
I walked. I prayed. And I just listened to the stillness.
I could hear the song of birds and even the flutter of their wings, as a dove took flight when I walked towards it. The soft pattering of drops on the ground was almost too quiet to hear, but when I passed houses with leaves carpeting the ground, I could hear the raindrops patter on the fallen leaves below with almost a magical sound.
There was a strange beauty about the day. I wondered what it was.
The sky wasn’t even clouded over. It was just completely grey.
Most of the trees stood looking quite forlorn, their branches stripped of nearly all their leaves. The few that stood straight and tall, the evergreens, appeared oddly unfitting with the rest of the scene.
I couldn’t put my finger on where exactly the beauty was. The air was cold, the ground was wet, but it was there nonetheless.
As I trudged down a stretch of the sidewalk covered with wet, half-mulched, multicolored leaves, I began to realize it’s kind of like life.
Every part of it.
Like the skies that are blue, as well as the ones that a grey.
Like the trees that are full of leaves, as well as the ones that are stark and seem almost dead … but will spring to life again in season.
Like the leaves themselves—the most colorful, vibrant and beautiful as they fall to the ground, signifying death … but also a promise, for we know life will begin again.
Life, in its mundane, everyday breaths, in and out, day after day. And those moments of sheer breathlessness.
There is beauty on the path I tread in the cold, in the wet, in the rain.
The leaves that silently flutter to the ground.
The green and red berries strewn beneath leafless trees.
The carpet of gold at my feet as I walk beneath a gingko tree.
The soft patter of rain falling, which holds a promise … even though as it falls, it grays the sky and shrouds everything in a blanket of forlorn silence. A grey, bleak, promise.
Just like life itself—grey, bleak, and often shadowy—is a promise of things that are to come.
A day when the shadows will recede, the rain will subside, and the colors of life as it truly is will be apparent for all to see.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to realize that we live in the “shadowlands” – that this world we live in is only a stark and shadowed picture of the life that is to come. For if there was not something more, our souls would not have been given the ability to long for it. That whisper of something greater beyond this life; that twinge of homesickness, even when you’re at home; that longing for something more, even in the hearts of those that have all they ever wished; that burst of clarity, like sunshine piercing through the grey of a day like this, saying, “There is more to life than what you see around you; there is more to you than simply life and death.”
Christmas fast approaches. This season brings a promise of more than gifts wrapped under a Christmas tree.
It brings the promise of a time when “happily ever after” will be more perfect than the most ideal Christmas morning.
As C.S. Lewis put it in The Last Battle, the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia, “The term is over: the holidays have begun.”
Not holidays full of work and cleaning, trying to remember everything you know you’ve forgotten, and just hoping nothing dire gets missed in the mix of everything there is to do and be and see.
No, this is a holiday where you arrive at the place you’ve always longed and dreamed. And you know it’s going to last forever.
Lewis goes on to write, “The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
The place where you open your eyes and realize you are finally home.
You are home because a God of love left His home of perfection, Heaven’s halls, to celebrate his first homesick Christmas on a bed of hay.
His first Christmas offered nothing to him but a life of rejection and sorrow, a life acquainted with grief. The gifts offered to him by the wise men whispered a promise of suffering greater than any man has ever known.
He exchanged his throne for a manger, his scepter for a tear, so that we – who through life often feel alone and homesick, who suffer and face sorrow – might have the promise of one who walked this same path: “I go to prepare a place for you.”
Home at last.
Reminding us we never have to fear homesickness, at Christmas or any other time … because there is a home waiting, a home that will be ours forever.
Beyond the clouds, beyond the shadows, beyond the grey.
No matter where you are this Christmas, what hopes you have that might be unfulfilled, what dreams might be fading into the grey winters of life … remember that the Light of the world slept in a manger to bring mankind the greatest Christmas gift ever.
He left this world with a promise: He goes to prepare a place.
That those homesick and homeless may have a forever home.
That the hopeless may have hope.
Joy has come to the world at Christmas … and because of that, joy lives, no matter how grey the day.
It lives always, because Love was born at Christmas.