Contented Christmas – by Rev. Heather McCarrel

Photo by Taryn Elliott/Pexels

Do you recall the children’s game Snakes & Ladders?  It is a square game board with 100 squares on it with the first one starting in the lower left corner and ending with 100th square in the upper left corner. The game is easy, just roll the dice and move your game piece that many spaces.  If you are lucky you land on square with a ladder and it moves you upwards but if you are not so lucky you land on a square with a snake and you slither downward losing the ground you had gained.

On our board there was a long snake on the 97th square that slide all the way down to the 13th square.  If you landed on it you were sent back to almost the beginning of the game.  It was that snake that came to my mind last week when the COVID case count went above 4000 cases daily in Ontario.  We began  December with wonderful plans and why not?  We had gone weeks with little to no new COVID cases in Grey-Bruce Counties; we had every reason to be excited.  Then we landed on the 97th square and slid all the way back down to the beginning. Now there are Government restrictions on how many can gather inside, outside and in stores. Theatres are canceling their shows and those who had travel plans are now staying put.

And yet, there isn’t exactly the same as last December because we’ve been down this road before and we know more than we did a year ago.  For example we know that to end the spread we have to do some simple things like wash our hands, distance ourselves and wear a 3 ply mask.  We also know this won’t last forever; this 5th wave will flatten out just like the 3rd and 4th waves did.  Like Maya  Angelou writes, “Every storm runs out of rain.”

I did despair for a few days; the days we returned many of the Christmas gifts, downsized the menu and began to figure out ways to ZOOM with family members.  Then I decided to try another approach to this Christmas; the approach the Apostle Paul teaches, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”(Philippians 4:12). So, I am calling this my Contented Christmas.

This Christmas I am disciplining myself to be contented with whatever may be.  And, once I settled into this contented mindset some amazing things began to happen.  First, we went for a lovely evening walk through the woods under a star filled sky.  We slowed to enjoy the silhouetted trees against the moonlit sky and to count the stars; the peacefulness of that walk seeped in and left me soulfully grateful.

Then, Sunday evening the kitchen filled with this otherworldly light, I went to the window and witnessed the most incredible full moon!  It appeared like a perfectly round balloon hovering just above the tree line spreading an iridescent yellow and orange light through my backyard.  We stepped onto the deck to bask in its glow. And, today, as I post this BLOG, it is the longest night of the year; we are at the tipping point.  The winter solstice tips us towards gathering light daily.

So, yes, it is true, this isn’t the Christmas most of us had hoped for but, despite COVID and its variants, the Christ Child will arrive.  The divine mystery of God’s enduring light will continue to shine in the darkness; a darkness that cannot extinguish its glow.

May you find a way to enjoy this holy season and made the most of Christmas 2021 for it will never come around again!  And may the love of the Creator, the joy of the Spirit and the peace of the Christ child be with you this Christmas and evermore.