Sunday, December 24, 2006
Joseph and the Angel
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse...or a Matt or a Josh! Finally they have fallen asleep and I have a few quiet moments to write and catch up. Christmas Eve is a special time for everyone I think, and tonight was no exception for our family. The boys were in our church's Christmas pageant this evening, and it was a humorous rendition of the Christmas story. We had dancing camels, cow puppets singing carols in opera (That would be me!!) and a couple of little angels who wandered all over the stage and had their wings fall off. In other words, it was a night we'll never forget.
I love our spiritual home. We attend the United Church of Christ here in Montrose, and I wish I had found it 20 years earlier. The UCC is a perfect fit for us, and is a place where we have found acceptance, support, encouragement and love. I don't think I have ever been around a group of people who have a more positive perspective on life, who focus so much on God's goodness and grace, and who put their faith into action every day in their own lives. Personally, I call it the "put up or shut up" church, which may sound a bit sacreligious but I think it isn't all that inappropriate.
On this, the night in which we celebrate Christ's birth, it is a time of reflection and contrasts. Thinking of the birth of the infant Jesus in less than ideal circumstances I often find my mind drifting to the births of my own children. Although it doesn't happen often, ocassionally I think about the boys' birth mothers and what happened in their lives to cause them to relinquish their children, who are so precious to me. What did they think when they discovered they were pregnant? Were they young, unmarried and afraid? Were they financially unable to provide for them? Were they ostracized by family and friends? Did they know immediately that they would not be raising their children or did they hope that perhaps they could manage to do so? And, on nights like this do they wonder where their children are, if they are safe and loved?
As I sit in front of the fire burning warmly in our woodstove, Dominick snoring on the couch beside my, two of my three children safely tucked away in their beds awaiting the arrival of St. Nick, I send up a silent prayer that God would provide their birth moms with some sense of peace, that He would allow them to have the same quiet confidence and certainty about their decision not to parent as He gave me in my decision to adopt. I pray that our new son is safe tonight, that he is indeed spending his last Christmas as just another anonymous orphan...well, he isn't really anonymous anymore, is he? I add in Angela and Olesya, asking that God place His loving arms around them and that He use our family to touch their lives with His love...that we will make a difference somehow, no matter how small, and that they feel cared for even if it is long distance. So much to be thankful for, so much joy that was no doubt born of great sorrow to others.
Although Christmas morning has yet to arrive, I received my Christmas gift early tonight. Matthew, who at 7 can often seem to be goofy and a bit irreverent (Gee, he IS just like Dominick after all!!) tugged at my heartstrings twice this evening. The first time was as we were driving home from church and somehow the subject turned to what qualities would make a perfect wife. While I halfway expected him to say something like "She has to like Legos" or "Be a good cook" he immediately said "I know! She has to be generous, kind and thoughtful."...I kid you not, those were his exact words. When I then asked "Do you want her to be beautiful?" he responded "Weeeelll... if she was generous and kind she WOULD be beautiful!". Oh man, as I choked back the tears Dominick and I gave each other a high five. I realized that maybe, just maybe, this kid who everyone else sees as silly and probably slightly annoying at times as all 7 year old boys can be really IS the deep, tender boy that I have always said exists.
The second moment came when he insisted I open the present he made for me at school. I carefully opened the lunch bag that had been stapled shut and lovingly had old Christmas cards taped to and inside I found an ornament that had been painted with snowmen. He said "Mom, there are 5 of us!" and he pointed each of us out, including "T" and added "See, our whole family is on it!". His willingness to embrace a new sibling who will actually usurp his place as the eldest in the family touches me deeply.
So, I now will wake up "Santa" from his slumber, and we will place the presents under the tree...and then we will stand back and look at the tree with lights twinkling in the dark, illuminating the mantle and the two stockings hanging there...and in our mind's eye we will see the 3 stockings that will be hanging there next year.
And just like baby Jesus, one more child whose start in life was a bit rocky will be treasured in this world, loved by imperfect and very human parents.