This is now among my favorite images.
It’s the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, 2009. It’s the time when I have to refrain from falling into a blubbering heap on the floor.
It’s the moment when the sanctuary lights are slowly turned off and candles start to cast a glow on each face. Every man, every woman, every child begins to sing Silent Night.
I take a moment to look around and think to myself...alright is everybody lit?
The simple act of such a solemn moment and I must crack a joke in my head. Remind me to tell you about the time in GA when we sang a hymn that had the word “ass” in it. I was beside myself in a state of giggles, tears just streaming down my face. But I digress.
So we’re all “lit” so to speak and begin to sing Silent Night...no music. It's simply one of "those" moments.
There's another Christmas song that has always made me feel "something". A something I just can’t put my finger on. It puts a weight on my heart - O Holy Night.
“It is the night of our dear Saviors birth” - the night he humbled himself and became flesh for our sake.
“Till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth” - to understand that I have worth. How do you even process that in a life of solitude? What worth does a single person have?
I’m transported to a wonderful pocket of memories of people who I miss dearly.
“Fall on your knees” - the value those words have.
“Oh hear the angel voices” - I wish I could hear them...my “them”. My angels.
Christmas doesn’t make me sad. It makes me feel the weight of not paying attention in life. The indiscretions of my youth. Not realizing the value of a moment. It makes me thankful for the memories I do have. It makes me more and more aware of how God can’t do "things" through me if I categorically refuse to step out and do what my heart tells me.
Today was such a keen reminder. I had said that I would take photos at the Heart of the Street luncheon for some of the homeless in Jacksonville. Honestly my frame of mind was to "not think about it too much and just take pictures". Not think too much about the fact that the same people who showered and put on new clothing and ate till they could eat no more, would return to the streets tonight, not matter the weather.
I started by asking a few people if I could take their picture. Then took a few more of the volunteers. Then...I just couldn’t. It seemed like such an invasion of privacy. I was afraid of being asked the question - why? Why do you want to take a photo of me, of us? I was afraid because I didn’t know how to answer. Even now that I’ve had time to digest the day I still don't know if I could answer.
Instead I stood firmly in the door frame saying “Hello” and “Merry Christmas”, shaking hands and trying to look each person in the eye with as much sincerity as I could without crying. Why was it so hard? Why couldn’t I just sit and talk with someone? I stayed in my comfort zone and once again didn’t realize the value of the moment until after the fact. I thought about it too much, maybe. Maybe I’m looking for a redeeming answer like “What could I possibly say to a homeless person that would be of any help or consequence or value”. I think...I over-thought it. Because in typing these words just now, I realized that’s not what it was about. Sometimes it’s just the simple act of being obedient and being available for God to use me.
Each day I am amazed. Amazed at what He reveals to me about who He created me to be...who I am, what I believe, what I hold dear in value, and even my worth. Lately the lesson has been that each person has worth. Not some, each. Each and every one. He loves them, and so can I. Maybe in the time leading up to our office closing, He will reveal more of that. A direction, a purpose.
Today was draining because it required more...more of which I was not prepared to give, mentally or emotionally. But I am thankful. I am thankful for each tear that it brought. Each and every one. I’m not sure this Christmas could have been any better than it was.