I woke feeling sad and a little gloomy. Maybe because the sun hadn’t shown for a few days…

During my morning hike through the gray December morning I tuned in to my heart and body. It was our first Christmas since Mom died; was I experiencing grief? Mom loved Christmas and we always had a good time chatting on the phone, planning holiday meals, making lists and discussing gift ideas. Yes, I was definitely missing her, but was there more?

Remembering yields perspective

I silently asked my Father if I was sensing a heaviness from His heart, a cosmic connection He occasionally gives me the privilege of sharing.

My mind began reminiscing the anticipation of going home for Christmas when I was in boarding school and college…weeks of heavy studying, packing bags and gifts, and finally the long ride home. What joy in the reunion, the warmth of familial hugs, the comfort of being loved and cared for! A place where my favorite foods were on the menu, choice smells filled the house and festivity spilled over in all hearts.

Home…even if imperfect from the inside, we hold a fantasy of what it should be, a spot of safety in the swirling chaos of the commonplace.

Equally vivid in my memory were those last hours of vacation when, in the pit of my stomach, apprehension began to gnaw. I had to reverse the journey, take up the mundane hard work, shoulder my duty. Though I carried the love of family in my heart, I missed them and longed for the safety of their embrace. Where I landed was a place of growth and education – good things, but separated from so much that was dearest.

Suddenly, my absorption in the upcoming Christmas season, all the anticipation and excitement paled as I realized how those weeks leading up the first Christmas might have looked in the cosmic home we call heaven. The first Christmas and joy it heralded might have been preceded by a sense of foreboding and maybe some gnawing apprehension. Surely there was at least a small measure of sorrow at the upcoming separation, the thought of the hard work and pain ahead. What for me was the most joyful time of year – anticipating Christmas – might have been a heavy-hearted time for God and His Son. Leaving the safety of Divine Embrace might not have been quite as joyful for Them as it is for us!

Cradle to cross to crown

“Jesus…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (Heb. 12:2)
He knew there would be joy…He could “see it from afar” (Heb. 11:13), so He endured.

‘Endure’ is not a word that implies joyful running toward and embracing with open arms, though perhaps He did that too. ‘Endure’, as least on this side of heaven, implies just finishing, walking through a fire because there’s someone on the other side that you desperately want to save. ‘Endure’ implies dogged determination even in the face of separation. ‘Endure’ speaks of tolerating danger and misery in spite of a longing in the heart for home, because there is joy at the end of this odyssey.

The gloom lifted as my heart received not only the heaviness of separation, but the joy that awaits at resurrection – all the resurrections of love lost and found, of understanding expanded, of salvation awakening, of growth invited.

Joy…set before us…endure…conquer…joy!

Republished with permission from College View Church’s eWeekend

Ann Halim, Editor