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It’s Christmas Eve Again – A Reflection

December 24, 2021
Last night Sister Moon made her way across the night sky

I just re-read last year’s blog about Christmas Eve 2020 which made me consider the changes and the challenges we have faced in 2021 and, it appears, will continue to face in 2022. You can find the blog here: https://wordpress.com/post/scotsirishpadre.blog/16234 It is Christmas Eve once again and, sadly, my heart is troubled. My friend Paul Pyncoski shared some beautiful images of an “alternative Christmas Eve” scene. He also shared the words of Thomas Merton from his book Raids On the Unspeakable. The reading came from the chapter “The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room.”

In this particular chapter, Merton shared his own inner wrestling about the spirit of Christmas in difficult times. Merton honestly strikes pretty close to home for me. This past year has held many challenges for Denise, for me, and for our families. We have wrestled with so much death, dying, division, grieving, and exhaustion this year and much of it is still in my own heart as we approach this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day observance. It (life) is haunted by the demons of emptiness. And out of this unutterable void come the armies, the missiles, the weapons, the bombs, the concentration camps, the race riots, the racist murders, and all the other crimes of mass society. (p. 72)

As Merton struggled, so I struggle to make sense of it all on a personal and national/international level. I know that isn’t possible… there are no quick and easy formulas or answers. However, as I seek out moments of silence in the midst of it all, I do see the glimmer of the light of hope in the midst of this mess called life.

Merton revisited the scene from the birth narrative of Jesus from the gospel of Luke. Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, and yet He must be in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems be nothing but the world at its worst. (p. 72)

In the Celtic cycle of the year, the time of darkness which is marked by the longest night of the year (Winter Solstice). The time of Winter has been described as a time of waiting and a time of preparation for new life. In the womb of the earth, in the darkness, new life is growing and waiting to be born. Out of the darkness comes hope and new life. Christ is present in this world as Merton said. Christ is even in the darkness.

As the sun goes down on this Christmas Eve, may we look for the presence of Christ in the unusual places. As Merton said, He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst. May you, dear reader, find that presence, that hope, that light in the darkness. A blessed holy season to each one of you. I am truly thankful for each one of you who takes the time to sit with me in the midst of this thing called life!

4 Comments
  1. joanne ramsthaler permalink

    Have a fruitful and rewarding year. Thank you for your wisdom and fine insights.

  2. Blessings to you and your loverly wife

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