I think that I became aware that something is missing about the same time that I found out that Santa was not real. All of a sudden my world was shaken. I don't think it was the myth's fault I just think it was the awareness that is suddenly granted about that age of distinguishing fantasy from reality, of knowing ourselves and becoming aware of our own hearts.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Along with that realization comes the potential for realizing something about our human condition. Our heart is not whole. There is SOMETHING missing. At first, it presents itself as just an unnamed uneasiness. We start to reach out for that next birthday, Christmas, TV special or a promise made to us by the adults to do something fun. Later it becomes the promise of potential fulfillment that an education offers us, the job that will allow us meaning in our life or the alluring promise offered in the next kiss, date or the ultimate partnering with another.
But, as we begin to find out on that day where Santa becomes a story in a book and something is shattered in our sweet childhood world, a whole heart is a difficult thing to obtain. Just when you hold that new toy and it breaks, just as you plan that outing with your dad and he has to work or just when the sparkle has begun to fade on the new engagement ring with the first real disappointment that all relationships bring you begin to realize that - yet again you are not whole.
I think Christians have it worse in some ways. We were promised that Jesus would satisfy every desire. Wholeness was to be found in Him. "Come to Jesus and he will satisfy every desire." Be at the next revival and your longings will be met. God will completely fill the void in our lives, is what is proffered by many pulpits in our country. But anyone who is completely honest with themselves will whisper that the ultimate Christian life did not fill the void either.
The thing that makes this so maddening is that all of us have experienced those moments. Moments where it did seem possible. Moments where the stars aligned and we smelled the vague fragrance of wholeness. Moments of rapture, being, knowing and being at peace. It happened unexpectedly as we gazed that the stars that one night, as we prayed and felt a presence with us, as we looked upon our first born in the hospital that day or as we sat contentedly with a loved one, a glass of wine and a sunset over the ocean. Those moments did (and do) happen but if we even try to grasp them they disappear like champagne bubbles in our glass. We just cannot keep them in our hearts long enough to understand how to corral them even for a day.
So what do we do? Some of us become destructive in our pursuit for wholeness. We simply stuff our hearts full of anything that presents itself. We pacify, medicate, distract or try to micromanage our way to happiness. We make expectations of ourselves and others around us so high that we are impossible to live with. We hurt our bodies, our souls and our spirits with our pursuits. We destroy our friendships and the relationships with our families as we demand that they fill the hole that seems to just grow larger and larger. We come to the end of our lives and wonder what has become of that simple love of life that we had as a child.
I realized this again as I looked toward our time as a family together this Christmas day. I realized ahead of time that being together, the laughter and joy that will ensue, the gifts, the food, the wine....all will not totally satisfy my heart.
I propose that it is only as I become at peace with my un-whole heart that I can even start to experience true joy. As a Christian I propose that Jesus came into this world to walk with me in my desires, hopes and dreams. He did not promise to eradicate them. He came to earth so many years ago so he could also live in a vessel with the same un-whole-ness. He knows that I am made of dust because he, too, was made of dust once.
So this day I rejoice at being human. I propose to love my family and friends - just as they are. I propose to love my God for stooping low to understand me. And I look forward to those tiny moments where, just for a second in space and time, I feel whole and wonder if that is really what heaven will be like.
Merry Christmas to all.
at 8:00 AM