Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas Awakening

When my daughter Amanda was three months old, we scheduled her christening ceremony to coincide with a holiday visit to my family’s home. We gathered at my parents’ church for the small private ceremony, just our family, closest friends, and the godparents. With all the planning and preparations for Christmas, I confess that I had given little thought to the christening—-other than as one event among many that busy year.

As we assembled in the tiny country church, I suddenly became conscious of the fact that everyone my husband and I loved was present. The minister glowed in his vestments as he cheerfully prepared his missals and the font. Suddenly it seemed to me that time stopped. I could hear nothing of the outside world, but every detail in the church was distinct, each dust mote clearly defined in the sunlight. We were no longer fifteen solitary people—-but legion—-as all goodness coalesced in a sacred place for that instant of benediction. I perceived each word the pastor spoke as a flame—-warmth around which we gathered, just as cavemen must have huddled around fires against the uncertain night. The scene was primal, holy, cosmic.

Bewildered by the intensity of my emotions, I found myself weeping openly as the service progressed. Soon we were all weeping, embracing, and celebrating in a magic moment of awareness of the specialness of our love for each other and our belief that darkness will never triumph. It was a moment words are inadequate to describe, a glimpse into all that I wish to understand.

I am just as moved, even so many years later, to recall this special Christmas–the Christmas when unto us, as well, a child was given. We celebrated more than a birth that took place almost two thousand years ago, more than a ritual performed by mere men. We celebrated the magic of our very existence, and the potential for mankind that faith ever renews.