Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kneeling in the Manger

These final days before Christmas bring exhaustion as the work of preparing to make merry brings wear and tear to my body and my soul. In spite of my weariness, I lie awake with worry heavy on my heart for my son who'd been sick with a sore throat earlier this month who has developed unusual complications. He had been fatigued and burning with fever, throat bright red and raw, yet he quickly healed as the virus seemed to move out of his body. Except it didn't. We didn't realize that the infection simply took up residence in a lymph node which generously shared its infective germs with the muscle in Joe's neck. Now with neck swollen to the size of a tennis ball, the pain rages from ear to sternum and my son can't move his head at all for the suffering he bears. Antibiotics should surely bring effective healing but the threat of an emergency room visit on Christmas Eve looms over our heads if that healing doesn't happen quickly.

In the middle of the night, I silently step into my son's room and kneel at the side of his bed, listening to his breath coming heavy and deep, and I offer a wordless prayer, just a movement of the heart in God's direction, a prayer that is for both of my sons who sleep in that room, as morning will bring a final psychological examination as part of the application process for seminary for my oldest son and I know that he carries stress and worry in his heart over that process-over the fear of the unknown-both regarding what the test will be like and whether or not he will be accepted to the seminary. My heart is heavy with a mother's love.

And I think of Mary and Joseph kneeling in the manger, cold and hungry, tired and scared, in prayer and adoration for their Son, the King. Fear and worry surely must have gripped their hearts as well-fear of the unknown abiding side by side with a deep love for their child. Were they, like me, unable to find words of prayer? Were they simply opening their hearts to God's presence in trustful surrender to whatever His plan would bring for their lives? I know the answer to my question is yes; they did surrender wholly to God's plan and so I will, too.

I will let my worry and my sorrow go and I will cling to peaceful trust in God as an offering for all of those who have larger worries this Christmas-for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one at this time of year when they want more than ever to be in the presence of those they love, for all of the clients who come to the WIC Clinic in droves trying to find some financial assistance to provide healthy foods for their families as their pocketbooks are strained by the burden of buying gifts, for those families who spend Christmas in the hospital kneeling at the bedside of their children who are ill with serious diseases such as cancer, for parents whose children have rebelled against their authority, against the law and against God and have brought the wounds of deep and cutting pain to the hearts of those who love them, and for all of those who feel a searing loneliness within-for all of these people, too, are kneeling in the manger.

My sorrow and worry is small and placed in the hands of God it is quickly overshadowed by His great love. Kneeling in the manger of my sons' room as they sleep I know that my blessings far outweigh my struggles and with Mary and Joseph to accompany me on my life's journey I will surely be able to bear whatever sorrows come my way by following their example of trustful surrender to the Holy Will of God.

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