Well, it’s almost here. The official beginning of the holidays is not very far away and I find myself sitting up in my room wondering if I am ready.
But, I wanted to take the time to talk about it with you, because maybe it will help.
Thanksgiving is a mercy to me, because it has become a dress rehearsal, a chance to help me prepare for Christmas.
Because the holidays are a little different here at the ranch.
The first year after Joy went Home, I somehow felt the need to completely overcompensate during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I channeled Martha Stewart, Mrs. Claus, Ree Drummond and Mary Poppins all at once. It was somewhat insane. It was a little crazy. It was fun, though. Just not normal.
I couldn’t keep up that pace in real life, and the first year after she died was not real life–it was like watercolor.
Over the following years, I have not really found myself figuring out how to make sense of the holidays. They are wonderful. I love them. But, sometimes it feels like I have stepped outside of them and can only enjoy them like a child who looks through windows all lit up and glowing.
I find happiness and delight in every aspect of the season, but sometimes–sometimes it feels like there is a wall of glass that keeps it from being truly tangible to me.
Thanksgiving is my time to see how thick and dark the glass is between me and the holidays. Between me and the celebration.
Part of the problem is that it hurts. It’s the beauty that hurts the worst. The intensity of the happiness intensifies the pain. I can’t feel the beauty of the wonder without feeling the agony of her absence.
And I want to squash the tears that threaten. I don’t think other people will understand the concept of agonizing joy. And it’s exhausting to keep it inside of me.
Some years, I want to almost ignore it all, because the thought of facing all that beauty and sweetness without her is simply more than I can bear. But, I can’t do that, can I? Because I love that during this one time of year, people actually remember their humanity. They remember what it means to care. And feeling that love and the sweetness of the season is part of who I am.
I want to reach out and lift up my heart to the heavens and smell the pine and the cinnamon and hear the slightly off key “herald angels sing,” and I want to join in, but it catches in my throat and I stand, silent, the glass between me and everyone else, and I wonder if it will ever be any different.
This Thanksgiving season, I am sitting in my room thinking about typhoons and addictions and broken covenants and car accidents and shootings and strokes and babies taking their last breaths…and I know it sounds awfully depressing, but it isn’t.
I think about the ones who are suffering more than I can ever comprehend, and I am praying for them from the depths of my soul, from the deepest parts of my heart where I feel the pain of losing Joy. I pray for them until I can hardly breathe anymore. I pray for them until I can’t cry any more tears. And I pray for me.
Then I sit in the dark and I wait. And something happens.
There is Light and a peace.
And then I feel something that I never had even considered.
I realize that these feelings, these tears and prayers are an important beginning to my holy days…my holidays...
I realize that the command “O, Come, let us adore Him,” cannot be answered for me without my tears.
I cannot adore Jesus Christ without momentarily being swallowed up in the reality that she is gone and without experiencing the intensity of that grief.
I cannot adore Him as my Savior fully without realizing and remembering that there are so very many others who suffer as I do, and many far worse, for whom He has carried the burden.
Before I suffered, He suffered it. He suffered it willingly and perfectly.
How can I fully adore Him without spending some of my soul on remembering that? And feeling it as deeply as I possibly can?
How can I receive Christ into my heart without attempting to at least understand His children and their pain?
How can I truly serve them if I don’t feel it?
And as I embrace that pain and sadness and grief, He is there, and He carries it for me.
He lifts if off of me and I can breathe again and I feel this intense, beautiful peace and the aching is gone and I feel Heaven.
And then I reach out and touch that wall of glass. And as my finger touches it, a tiny crack appears. It slowly grows larger and spreads, branching out all over, until it shatters and I find myself on the other side of the glass, feeling the snowflakes on my cheeks, smelling the cinnamon, and breathing in the laughter of those who have never tasted the pain I have, and I am full of pure joy and He holds the agony so I don’t have to do it.
And I am thankful that they don’t have to suffer what I have suffered. I pray they never will.
But if they ever do, He will be there to carry them.
And I pray and hope and plead that somehow I will be able to help.