Thank you for your very kind replies and care.
The words stick in my fingers these days, tangled. I have no public statements to make, and the private ones are wails.
The people of God prayed for us, and I was such a mess afterward that I hid in the bathroom and wiped tears and snot for many minutes, until my sister found me. Every time I try to write about this I get stuck. The prayers were too holy for me to share here, and they changed us, and they won battles in the heavenlies.
But the pain keeps coming, in inescapable pulses.
From a termination hearing scheduled two weeks out, we have turned a one-eighty toward rapidly increasing visits with bio family, in a final effort at reunification, scheduled soon if all goes well. I feel utterly incapable of saying long goodbyes to three of my children in as many months. I did not know that anything could hurt so much and be survivable. But pain is not lethal; some say they wish it were.
Some days my heart is full of hatred, rubbed raw by living. I hate the weather glowering at me and I hate the muddy kitchen pawprints the dog is making at me and I hate the sound of a child in a tantrum, long and messy, at me. Hate is easy. I always thought its antidote was love, but that is well-nigh impossible.
The opposite of to hate is to forgive.
And everyone on earth must do it frequently, repeatedly, regularly – or go mad.
From a distance, it is easy to see romance in the stable and the straw-filled manger. I imagine celestial light reflecting in the eyes of the cattle, and a warm glow surrounding the Mother. But it must have been hideous, up close and for the very first time.
Mary may have been an inexperienced country girl, but in no way did her fantasies and fears about this Baby lead her to imagine a lonely emergency birth in a barn. She must have felt like she was ruining everything. She must have fought panic as she failed to arrest the birth pains coming stronger and stronger at the worst of times, alone with a man she had not slept with and what kind of a mother was she, anyway? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, all dirt and cold and racking pain in the night, far from home and her mother, with strangers in and out through the banging door and a cow that kept sticking her big lumpy drooling head over the partition. The precious Child lay streaked and sobbing in her arms, with nowhere clean to put him. She must have wondered if God was furious with her for treating his Son this way. Should she laugh or cry?
(She would have laughed if she had known that two thousand years later, people would still be singing about the cow.)
When you use different words you can feel it.
The point of Christmas is that Christ entered. Here. He is the last person in the world to be upset with a mess, or rattled by the unforeseen. He is acquainted with grief.
His name is called
Fantastic – the scarcely believable miracle
Advisor – with wisdom upon wisdom
The Powerful Ruler – waving baby fists in the air
The Father Who Never Changes or Leaves – in the midst of all that is uncertain and upside down
The Sovereign of Serenity and Well-Being – vulnerable to woe, yet utterly unshaken by it
In every wrong and broken part of this world, we wait for him. He is here: in my hysterical weeping, in every bloody death, and birth. Soon he will show himself.
O Christ, our hope is in you.
Where do you need him most this season?
I am wishing you joy. I will be back after the holidays.