I am exhausted. It’s been a long road to Christmas this year and even though I have managed to set aside some time for prayer, most days I have fallen asleep with the friendly voices of Pray as You Go playing through my headphones. (My spiritual advisors have assured me that’s ok. If that is what I need then it’s what God wants. I’m more than happy to agree.)
I know I’m not alone. Even if we try to remember the gift of Christmas somehow we end up distracted by crackers, food, booze, parties, food, finding and wrapping the right present, food, arguments, arguments about food ( is it just me?)
It’s all the more upsetting because Christmas can be a time of real spiritual depth, a time when the veil becomes thinner. And yet for a few years it’s been stressful, worldly and frankly a bit exhausting. I miss the closeness of God, I miss the peace that can be found in attending services, in devoting large chunks of time to quiet, in listening. It’s a hollowness.
As I found myself in a traffic jam welling up at the theme tune from The Snowman (again) I remembered those days when Christmas was magical not manic, the days I when I had time. I remembered that there is a community of believers who do have the time to pray and worship more deeply. They support those of us who just have to get through the next 24 hours, they make it ok for us to coast just a little. And I realised that there will come a time when I re-enter that more time-rich part of our community, so it’s OK. I just have to focus on my daughter’s face at the Nativity and pray fervently that she won’t wake up at 3am to share her stocking with us.
But we all know God doesn’t answer every prayer and perhaps that’s one prayer I’d be happy enough not to have answered.