For much of this Christmas season, I’ve felt that I’ve been in a magical place.
Much of where I am right now, and where I was just before that, is new to me. And how I got there is somewhat befuddling and hard to understand for myself and others. Today, I realized that I feel a bit like Lucy Pevensie might have when telling Mr. Tumnus about how she got to Narnia:
Book cover, first edition, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", image from Wikipedia
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tumnus.”
“I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Tumnus,” said Lucy
“And may I ask, O Lucy, Daughter of Eve,” said Mr. Tumnus, ‘how you have come into Narnia?”
“Narnia? What’s that?” said Lucy
“This is the land of Narnia,” said the Faun, “where we are now; all that lies between the lamp-post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea. And you–you have come from the wild woods of the west?”
“I–I got in through the wardrobe in the spare room,” said Lucy.
“Ah!” said Mr. Tumnus in a rather melancholy voice, “if only I had worked harder at geography when I was a little Faun, I should no doubt know all about those strange countries. It is too late now.”
“But they aren’t countries at all,” said Lucy, almost laughing. “It’s only just back there–at least–I’m not sure. It’s summer there.”
“Meanwhile,” said Mr. Tumnus, “it is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”
Though it’s all sometimes a little strange, I have to admit that I am a bit jealous about not yet being invited to tea with a Faun. But here I am, in a new-seeming place, filled with wintertime delights and wonderful sights… and sometimes I’m not quite sure how I arrived. Time seems to move at a different pace here than what I knew before.
For example, it is a week before Christmas and all of my Christmas *everything* is taken care of. Cards went out weeks ago. Special things for family living far away have been got, decorated, and sent. The house is filled with twinkling things, good smells, and cheerful sounds. Presents are all bought, wrapped, and hidden away for that special morn.
This is the first year I can remember having so much space before Christmas Day. For the past several years, working full-time, volunteering several hours a week, and trying to do all this as well – well, it was not always cheery, if you get my drift. I felt, year after year, that I was constantly rushing to get things done, everything seemed pushed out to the very last possible minute, things I wanted to do often just didn’t get done (How many years didn’t we send Christmas cards? And how many times, when we did, they were Valentine’s Day cards? More than once, I admit!)
I know in my brain that many of these things are trappings of the holiday perception, but still, they mean much to me and to our family, so they are good and I wanted to do them. But often it seemed that there just wasn’t enough time to get things done. And as far as having space to contemplate what Christmas really means to me, and why we even celebrate this holiday, well, forget it. Maybe there might be a spare hour or two before Christmas Day, but most often it wasn’t until the week after that I had enough brainspace to ponder anything. And when I did, I usually didn’t really want to, because there was a whirlwind of a house to pick up, New Year’s clean-out to accomplish, and much to do to make life manageable when the Captain and I both returned to full-time work in January.
But this year is different, and wonderfully so. I feel that I am coming towards Christmas with an entire Spare Oom of space behind me. This year’s greatest gift has been space and time to approach the season of Advent in a way that is new to me, a way that is filled with slowness and contemplation, awareness and intention. For the first year out of a dozen or so, the planning and giving of the season truly *is* meaning more to me – much more – than the receiving. In fact, I have already been receiving a gift I never anticipated: huge amounts of joy in the preparation for Christmas, and in thinking about those close to me as I write cards or find and prepare giftly expressions of love and friendship.
Now I am standing by the lamp-post, just like Lucy. A golden glow fills the air, and I ponder many things and invitations. I am not quite sure which way I’ll go next, but in the meantime I am in the moment, filled with wonderful excitement, joy, and anticipation. And with that time, and with that space, I am going to celebrate anew the ‘waiting in wonderment’ that comes with Christmas and the holy remembering of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Yep. It’s a pretty wonderful gift, wouldn’t you say?