Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas in Review: Finding Baby Jesus

As simple as we try to keep things, I find Christmas in the States quite hard. I am not blaming the U.S. for this. Yes, we are the nation of materialism like no other on the planet. But I will not say it is the fault of this nation that I struggle.

I think, rather, it has to do with the fact that I am away from the familiar paths that focus me on Christ. It’s not that there are no paths to Him here, it’s just that they are not the ones I have been journeying on. Many of the people around me are not the people I have been sharing the journey with. And so, as I approached the celebration of God made incarnate, I found myself adrift and a little bewildered.

I sent my nephew the five-disc set of Christmas music by Sufjan Stevens. He thought I was Super Aunt. I ordered one for us as well but in the week before Christmas I had little time to hear it. It played between stops during my busy week spent mostly in the car running here and there. It was like tiny tastes of goodness dropped in the mouth of a slightly deranged woman.

On Christmas Day I sat in the kitchen with Rachel, my English sister-in-law. We were pathetic, I admit. We sat at the table limp and a bit faded around the edges talking about why moms are so tired at this time of year. (Meanwhile, Super Mom, AKA my mother, was zipping around the kitchen in a jolly fashion!) Rachel and I revived after our kitchen table time and the day really was nice.

Yet that sense of disconnect lingered as I climbed into bed with a list in my head of all the work I have ahead of me in the weeks to come.

Our family pulled out of the drive-way on the 26th at 7:30am to drive to New Mexico. With Trevor driving and Byron up front keeping an eye on that, I pulled out my headphones and my Sufjan Christmas cds. My sister had called on Christmas Eve to say that the five discs had pretty much saved her Christmas. (She loves to say things in a really big way.)

I will not try to explain it. I think Sufjan defies explanation anyway. I love the mix of old hymns, carols and tunes with his original stuff. I love “Oh Holy Night” on a banjo. I love that the collection includes “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” one of my very favorite hymns. (It contains the lines, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy grace I’ve come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.” I suppose it’s the multiple locations of my life and the knowledge that my sojourning grandparents named every home they lived in “Ebenezer” that makes these lines sparkle to me somehow.)

Simply put, as the eastern edges of California melted into Arizona dessert, I found what I had been needing to connect with Jesus this Christmas. Trevor calls new Alchemy guitar strings “Happiness in a box.” Colin says the same about his new Adidas Sambas. For me, because the little discs seemed to know how to open the places in my heart I was longing to be opened, the places that so wanted to see Jesus anew this Season, I would say the same…

The Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas: Happiness in a Box.


Rachel said...

Lisa, thank you so much for being so open on your blog. Your post made me sigh (in a good way)...and it made me absolutely long for a remote shore, or the Portuguese path down to the waterfall beach, or a car, Interstate 10, someone else at the wheel and headphones connected to Sufjan.

So yeah, I sighed, but it was a sigh bent forward, reaching for ways to find Jesus when he's lately seemed a little lost to me...though, as is often the way, I think I've probably been the lost one. ; )

Anyway, I also smiled thinking of you all in a car together! I hope you're all doing well. Happiest of New Years!

Happiest of new years...

Rebecca said...

tag done

lisa said...

Rachel, those of us from the Matrix who have scattered to go through the doors God has been opening before us all find ourselves in this funny state. It is a comfort to know we remain traveling companions, separated only by location but not by heart.

Rebecca said...

Sufjan Stevens ....his Christmas Box....I had heard on the Beebs that he has done a Christmas album for years and given it to friends and now this is a compilation of that released to the public....of course I googled his name to try and find out from the horses mouth but could not find what I had heard. Do you know if this is true? Is it important? yes. Why? Because I am curious!!!!!!

Also.....a journeying path is sometimes difficult to find when ones heart is in differnt nations, at least a part of one's heart....soon the path will be easy to find again

lisa said...

Rebecca, you heard correctly. He started putting out these cds isn 2001 but just for friends and family. This year he officially released five discs in a box with incredible liner notes and lots of frills. I ordered it directly from the label Asthmatic Kitty Records (Sufjan Stevens Presents: Song for Christmas.) Not to everyone's taste but it made a big impression on me!

On the journeying path and different nations, I've told our kids that the bane of this beautiful life is that we will always long for other places even while enjoying the place we are in.