Friday, December 11, 2009

Good Grief, Silent Night

-originally published on December 9, 2005

Last night was gorgeous. The snow started falling at about 9 and as the minutes went on, the flakes got bigger and it started to fall faster. We finished watching the Apprentice and Jeff went up to bed; I was a few mintues behind him, just tidying up the house so that it's done in the morning when I wake up. (I love getting up to a clean house!) I saw the spotlight on outside and when I went to turn it off, I noticed the snow. The light illuminated the snow in this picture-perfect Christmas-y way and I just had stop and enjoy it, to take it all in.

I turned off all of the lights in the house except the Christmas tree, and then I put on Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas CD, #11, Silent Night. What a song. Every year I play this song both on Christmas Eve and Christmas night to help me reflect about the year that's passed. It's the most beautiful Silent Night song I've ever heard and when I hear it, it slows my mind enough to sit and be. It's completely instrumental and at the very end, there is the sound of a wind swirling through the air, kind of signaling the change: the end of another year, the start of a new one and the wonder, fear and excitement of which that new year brings.

As I looked out my living room window, I noticed that the reflection in the window was that of our tree, glistening with white lights and ornaments. Outside the snow was falling and the air cold, but inside, there was peace and warmth. Then I saw myself in the reflection, with the tree to my left and the illuminated snow in front. Such beauty all round. It was sacred to me, all of it. As I stood there and thought about the time I've had at this address, in this house, I started to smile, and then to cry.

My first thought was to give praise to God for blessing me (and later Jeff) with this house. I can't even begin to count all of the blessings we've had here. Then my thoughts drifted to the memories that have been made here. So many wonderful memories, so many things to think about, including the awful moments I'm too ashamed to mention. "There's been so much here God, so much that You've ordained. Do I really have to go?"

I thought of how when I first found this house on my way to work, I had to sneak in to get a glimpse of it, it just seemed so perfect. The door was unlocked and the house was empty, and I ran through so fast with my heart beating in fear of someone finding me. I thought about it for two whole days, and so wished that it could be mine, that I could afford it and that they'd let me have my cat here. Once I finally got it, I came in (no longer sneaking in!) to pray in each and every room. It just seemed to normal to do that, since it was God who allowed me to have this dream. The main thing that I kept praying for was that this house would be a home, both for me and for those I love. I prayed that they'd feel welcome, comfortable as if it were their own home, and that the Lord's peace would forever flow here. God has answered that prayer. Every single person that's stepped foot in my home has felt at home. Every single one. God's presence rests here and I am so thankful that people can sense that and be comforted when they are here.

Then I thought about the various gatherings and get togethers I've hosted here. I thought about one of my best friends, Kim and how we were here the day before her wedding celebrating her and blessing her. I thought of my family celebrating Mother's Day here the day after that, and then I thought of the summer bible study we held here with young adult women from our church. We were bursting at the seams and I thought of the truth that was spoken during those 4 weeks into hearts that so desperately needed to hear it, perhaps mine needing to hear it the most. I thought of making dinners, chasing Jeff and being chased, painting rooms, sitting and watching election '04 coverage, babies who crawled on the floor, Justin the cat meowing and shedding everywhere. I thought of the fires we had in the pit and the friends who came to hang out. I thought of fights Jeff and I had and how I wished that I wasn't so stubborn. I thought of the way this house looked when I walked in last March and Jeff proposed. Candles were everywhere and he was beaming...I relieved every moment of that memory. Then my mind went to when I prepared for my own wedding, my closest friends coming here and blessing me with their advice, prayers and joy. I thought of mine and Jeff's first night here together as husband and wife, and how it was so not how I thought it would be! I laughed and grimaced and cried as my mind raced, thinking of things I thought I'd forgotten.

I looked outside and wondered, "What have you for me in Maryland, Lord? I know You're in the midst of this but what have you there for me? Will there be a home that's cozy and peaceful and warm? Will people know how You've impacted our lives and see us living for You? Will my friends know me like my friends here know me? The real me?" I thought of Jen and Katie and Louise and Kim. Kim's been gone now for 6 months, Katie's been gone a whole lot longer than that, but what about Jen and Louise? I'm leaving and can't bring them with me. I can't just stop by on my way to my sister's house to see Jen, or sit on the couch for hours upon hours talking with Louise. I won't see their faces every Sunday in church and our 3 weeks left together isn't nearly enough to accomplish all we wanted to do together! "Why God? Jen and I were going to be pregnant together, remember? And Louise is the mentor-friend I've always wanted, honest and wise and silly too. Can't they come too, Lord?" No Kelly, this is for you, I heard. I continued, "Why should I leave my Mom now when she's just about to retire and we'd have lots more time together, and what about when I have children? I want her to be there with me. And my Dad, God, he doesn't know You yet, I have more work to do! Can't we wait?"

The song kept playing, the snow kept falling, and I finally let myself grieve the losses that are about to come. It felt so good to cry hard about these things. My heart was open to feeling the pain and hearing what God was whispering to me in our silence, but I just couldn't decipher it all. It was too much and all I could do was sob with the precious memories floating in my head, all mixed up with gratitude and loss.

"Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon Virgin Mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace..."

I wrote this post a few years ago. Jeff and I were very newly married, preparing to pack up and move to Maryland 2 days after Christmas.

As I re-read it tonight, I am comforted that although there was much unknown then, as there is now, we serve a God who knows all things, and works for our good and His glory.

No matter how dark the nights may seem, joy comes in the morning.