Christmas in the alley
A Christian Science perspective.
It was the day I moved the office from one part of downtown Chicago to another. There was little light coming from the pre-solstice sun. I was sitting in my car, trapped between the moving truck and a bottled-water truck, which was not supposed to be there at the time appointed for us to use the loading dock.
The clock was ticking on the movers’ time and my money. It would be a half hour before the bottled-water man finished reloading the empty crates onto his truck.
The satellite music station had just dedicated its broadcasting to classical Christmas music. The American Boychoir sang “O Holy Night,” and I needed its message at the end of that long moving day. Could it be that I was being invited to experience Christmas in this less-than-ideal setting?
There was evidence of God’s grace present. While we were waiting, the security staff was effusive in its apology and eager to help get the fragile things from my car into the freight elevator while we were waiting. My friend and office mate had an inexhaustible enthusiasm about helping. And while I had groused about the old office building becoming a condo/hotel, I finally yielded to the joy of the new opportunity.
Without much sleep the night before, I admitted it was actually good to sit and rest before the onslaught of unpacking the office to get ready for another day’s work. It was then I recognized the feeling of Christmas. There was a stillness that penetrated the inconvenience. The feeling of being loved that we associate with Christmas was there with me behind the steering wheel in the glare of the alley lights, around the looming scaffolding that was making it hard for the truck to maneuver.
Christ, the saving power of God, is present to secure our awareness of our oneness with God. That oneness is the inner conviction that my identity is not tenant in transition, not wife eager to get home to her husband, not mortal counting the hours of effort. In the stillness of that oneness, my identity is the daughter of God, being loved and cherished, supported and guided. While we tend to think of Christmas as a seasonal experience, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy invite us to acknowledge the Christ-power as “now and forever, here and everywhere” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 361).
I have often been impressed that the Bible’s Christmas story is one of a child being protected from an attempt to destroy his life purpose. It’s awesome to look at the support that baby Jesus had to guard him from King Herod’s jealous wrath: the wisdom of Joseph; the abundance of the wise men, which probably made the holy family’s stay in Egypt a lot easier; the adoration and tender care of Mary’s understanding that this birth was a divine event. I love that the shepherds could move past their fear and go where the angels directed them to worship.
Christ Jesus would have to face down many other obstacles to his life purpose: the temptations of the wilderness, the mocking voices of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the storms, the betrayal of one and the unfaithfulness of many, the cruelty of the cross. But his life purpose included the authority to defeat the opposition to his life purpose.
Could that be true for us, too? The delay in the alley that evening was a minor obstacle that helped me hear the major message of Christmas. No matter what the gloominess and fear we’re facing, the stillness of our oneness with God is intact. Settled in that love, we recognize that we have love to share, and this love is the basis of our life purpose. God’s love endows us with talents, opportunities to use them, and positive outcomes for ourselves and others.
The settling of the office went amazingly quickly. The movers realized they were part of an early Christmas present to me this year. As I drove home, “O Holy Night” came on the radio again, this time sung by Kathleen Battle. I heard the words, “His law is love and his gospel is peace.” What it meant to me that moment was that love isn’t occasional and peace isn’t determined by circumstance. Love and peace are present even in a city alley.
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