M and I went to church together on Christmas Eve. It was late afternoon, not long before dinner, and we’d gotten a later-than-I’d-intended start from home. When we got there, the church was packed. I managed to find us a seat since M could sit in my lap. There was a very antsy toddler in front of us, several babies crying. Kids all around his shifting and wiggling about rustling their costumes for the paper bag pageant.**. I started to feel annoyed by the level of noise and the I’m-bored-when-will-it-starts from M. I wondered if I would even be able to hear the priest’s word, and thought how I could be home in a comfortable house watching a Christmas special and eating cookies. I was overly warm, slightly suffocated by the crowd, longing for quiet reverent time.
Then I remembered the wonderful message of Melissa Wiley’s recent post Real Life. Life is filled with muck and mess, but you have to let it go and savor all that is perfect. I heard the joy of children filled with anticipation. I marvelled at the number of peopled who’d felt the need to be there for the celebration of Christ’s birth. I waved at the squirmy toddler and thought about how quickly the toddler years pass and how many beautiful moments they contain. I realized that I might not be able to see what was happening at the front of the church very well but I had a perfect view of the beautiful stained-glass window depicting Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. I relaxed and let myself experience the joy of all that was right instead of all that was wrong and I’m thankful for that.
* *The children decided when they arrive if they’d like to be shepherds, angels, animals, or stars. They pick a paper bag with the appropriate costume and then walk to the front at the appropriate time in the reading of the Christmas story. It’s Christmas pageant fun without the stress of rehearsals or costume making.