Sunday, December 26, 2004

With the Dawn of Redeeming Grace...

Here on Austin Avenue in Waco, TX it is an extremely silent night. Not only are all my friends in various states of movement to and from this town, but it seems as if those parts of the town that occupy the peripheral borders of my attention are in flux as well. I woke up this morning early to be at work by 7:00. The day was spent putting stickers on books that we hope to clear out of the store, thus their moniker "clearance." People came and went but my fingers were busy pushing a big rubber button on a device called a PDT, short for Personal Data Transmittor, or so I think, determining which books need stickers and placing the said stickers on the said books. Seems boring but my mind needed a break.

I needed to be reminded of the mundane.

It's a tendency among those of us who have progressed slightly in years to lament the fact that the magic of Christmas isn't quite as, what's the word, magical anymore. We want Christmas to feel like it used to feel. We want it to be the shining oasis in the midst of an otherwise dreary cycle of seasons. But mostly, I think, we want something to look forward to. Isn't that really what we lose when we grow up, those out of the ordinary times that shuttle excitement into our thoughts through the vehicle of anticipation?

So we look to Christmas to be the greatest make and model of that anticipation vehicle. We look back and we tell the great stories of Christmas. Wonderful, even, yes, magical stories. Angels fill the story at every turn. Miracles explode into the world of a young woman and her future husband and an old couple for whom the possibility of miracles seemed to fade long ago. Shephards, poor men who occupied a the lowest rung of the social ladder, were treated to a sneak preview of the greatest story ever told before or since. Men from the east made extravagent investments of time and money to see what this star really meant.

But one thing I have to remind myself is how localized the Great Story was at first. It's an extremely large world and Bethlehem is an immensely small place. That night may have been bustling with cosmic activity around the manger, but in Rome a servant fell asleep before her head hit the pillow because of a long day of labor. Shephard's may have quaked that night, but in northern Russia a man was placing wood in the night fires to keep his family warm, something he had done, and would do, for years without fanfare. Zechariah and Elizabeth stayed up that night and wondered in amazement what the news of Mary's child meant and how it fit into the great miracle they had received. But somewhere around Waco that night Native women were washing ceramic pots after dinner.

Such is the nature of the miraculous. Magic and wonder fill the earth, but not all at once. If it were so it wouldn't be magic and wonder. If magic and wonder filled the earth all at once, do you think we would yearn for the mundane? I think we would.

Not too long ago, and some of you noticed this, I changed the name of my blog from the extremely generic "What I'm thinking these days," to "Every Day is a Revolution." I think at one point Jason noticed and made a comment about it. I can't remember where I came up with the phrase, but I think I heard it in a song somewhere.

I know, of course, you are smart enough to figure out that "revolution" means two different things. Inittially when you read the title the intended affect is to make you think that every day is revolutionary. But then, when you think about it, every day isn't revolutionary. In fact, most days aren't. I would dare say there's been no more than one hundred revolutionary days in all of history.

But every day is a revolution. Every day this big ball occupies one place in the universe and travels at great speed in a circle (roughly) headed right back to where it began. Another opportunity to do those every day things all over again. Another opportunity to find that great events are revolutionary but so or ordinary events.

And such, I believe, is the nature of the Christmas story. At one part of one day a couple of thousand years ago the earth occupied it's place and moved away from it. When it made it back to it's place, everything was the same and yet everything had changed. A lady and a baby and heavenly beings was the story in Bethlehem. Same ol'- Same ol' was the story in Central Texas. But you know the thing about stories. They get around.

So my day was just a day. Putting stickers on books, buying groceries, seeking to fill the hours in an empty town with books, movies, and an attempt at writing. And yet my day was much more than just a day because it was spent in a world that the God of the Heavens deemed worthy to visit, to touch, to redeem.

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