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by Linda Rondeau
Every Christmas Helen tries to hide at home and wish the season away. For her, the yuletide holds no blessings or jubilation, only memories of a promise lost. It has been more than twenty years, yet the painful past still pierces the heart each time the mistletoe is hung. Helens friends make Herculean efforts to insulate her from her self-inflicted isolation by including her in their plans. She acquiesces out of loyalty and mingles with grace, but secretly aches for the occasion to end so she can retreat to her solitude once more. Though she tries to be pleasant, the social festivities place a particularly heavy burden on her spirit. The evidentiary unity of family that the season brings serves to prove once again that she is a party of one.
Helen was supposed to be a bride during this season. She was left standing at the altar waiting for the groom, only to be told he had been killed in an automobile accident on the way to the wedding. When she hears the Christmas Carols, she is reminded of a happiness that was nearly in her grasp but cruelly yanked away. Helen is a lovely person and has faced her loss courageously. She has given much to her community. She never complains nor seeks sympathy for herself. Nor would one characterize her as embittered or angry. Yet every year at Christmas, the unwanted memories are revisited. Although she never speaks of her grief, those who know her understand.
There are many in our society like Helen who shun the season like a disease. They are afraid they will be infected with recollection. They feel a sense of alienation from a world that is coupled. They are shrouded by an aura of aloofness that protects them from reminiscence. They avoid occasions that might invoke a remembrance of yesterday when they were more than just one. Only those who have experienced that sorrow of sorrows could perhaps truly comprehend the depths of the sadness. Friends attempt to fortress these fears with love and attention; but it only serves to deepen the despair. The void cannot be filled. But, I believe there is One who suffered as none other, and who cares deeply for Helens season of remembered grief.
When the Father saw the rustic cradle where the young child slept, did He see a rugged cross on a hillside?
When He saw the swaddling clothes that kept the baby warm, did He see the crown of thorns that would make His son bleed?
When wise men brought gifts of frankincense, gold, and myhr to worship the infant royal, did He see the mocking sign hung above a dying Lord: Here is Jesus, King of the Jews? Did He see His son ridiculed, scorned, stripped of dignity, beaten and scourged?
When He hung the star above where the child lay, did He see the spear that would pierce His Sons side? Did He see the blood and water pour from the Sons side and fall upon the ground as an atonement for the sins of lost humanity?
When Mary wrapped the babes wee fingers around her hand, did the Father see the nails that would pierce them and hold them to a tree? Did He feel the agony His son would know when the cross was hoisted up and dropped into its place?
When He saw the shepherds keeling by the manger, did He see the throngs at His Sons feet jeering, cursing, and spitting at the Savior while he said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!?
Only the Father knew the events that someday would unfold. The world celebrated the promise of salvation not knowing the price that would have to be paid. Only the Father knew how costly the sacrifice would be. But it was planned from the beginning of time, and the Father would not turn back from his purpose. Only He knew of Heavens loss that day of Jesus birth. I wonder if the Father grieved as He looked down the path of history, and I wonder if His grief is not renewed each new yuletide as He thinks upon the gift He gave to an undeserving world.
To Helen, and to all like Helen, I simply say this. God, our Father, is not a stranger to heartache. Tears are His specialty. He, too, was bereaved. Yet, it pleased Him to give His only Son to a world that would reject him, spit upon, and crucify him. He did this so that all of us might find in Him a God who loves, forgives, and saves. Unfathomable, yet true.
This Christmas, give your loss to God. He understands and He cares. For He too, is acquainted with grief.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV).
Author: Linda Rondeau
Publication Date: December 29, 2001
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