ANNIE KENNEDY

WHERE ARE YOU CHRISTMAS?

I don't like to admit the sadness I feel the day after Christmas.

It is the same feeling that comes after a storm that has stopped me in my tracks and demanded my attention has rolled away. The rain stops, and the sun shines again and everything goes back to normal, back to the way it was before an outside or unforeseen circumstance intervened and gave permission for a breath to be taken, and a moment to be held for a moment longer.

We tend to avoid inconveniences, but if we're honest, don't we often find that they are more welcome because they are uninvited? The responsibility is taken out of our hands, and with it the weight and the pressure that it carries, and our grip gets to loosen. We have permission to set down our tools and our plans and for a span of time that we don't get to dictate, we believe a little deeper in something a little bigger that, in that pause, seems a little realer.

It is the breath we see in winter, reminding us of the invisible we take for granted, sustaining our every heartbeat.

When things go back to normal, we forget. We return to our work instead of letting the magic of faith and hope guard our hearts with peace.

Glitter is no longer celebratory, but mess.

Disruptions are no longer happy surprises, but inconveniences.

The day after Christmas it is almost as though, in the anticipation of Advent, the thing I was waiting for either came and I missed it, or didn't come at all, or didn't look like it was supposed to, and I am left sad and disappointed.

I don't like to admit it, because it means I had wrong expectations, or I wasn't grateful enough.

The thing is, Christmas will come again. It will rain again.

Sometimes having hope means living in the tension between what was and what will be. And it hurts like a tightrope burn, or torn hamstrings, or stress fractures.

For a while now I have felt interruption knocking on my door, inviting me outside my normal and comfortable, and to find Christmas, and lightning storms, and glitter, and foggy breath, once a week.

This interruption calls itself the Sabbath. It is the day that faith and hope get to take centre stage, and I get to loosen my grip on normalcy and believe a little deeper in a future promise. On that day, the tension toward heaven pulls a little tighter and draws me a little closer.

The Aramaic word maranatha is mentioned only once in the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, and can be translated as a cry for our Lord to come, or a declaration that He already has.

It is a tightrope word for the tension of our current circumstances.

I want to remember that when hope hurts, it is only because that which is pulling me closer is only getting more real and soon to be realised.

I don't want to forget the breath that sustains me.

So I accept the invitation to Sabbath, to yearn in tension for six days and rejoice and celebrate on the seventh.

Would you like to join me?

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