Messy, vulnerable perfection…

I heard a story of a baby conceived in difficult circumstances…a troubled teenage mom, the father not involved, the family in distress and full of uncertainty. And I thought about Christmas—the Holy Family…young, poor, without a place to stay, rejected…a bad scene—from the outside. And inside, for the eyes of faith: warmth, love, light, God’s graceful providence. And hope. Hope because God in His great mercy was willing to share in our fragile human life…in the messy, vulnerable perfection that is a baby. 

Do we reject Him? Do we run away from the source of all goodness because He has the smell of a stable? Because He is okay with a bed of straw? Do we keep seeking Him in the silken sheets of palaces, because we want a God made in our image? And this is the image we want: riches, comfort, power, control. Not the messy, vulnerable perfection that is a baby. 

These are not new ideas, but I think they are worth revisiting. Because embracing new life, no matter what the circumstances, is a way to embrace God. Trusting that He is with us in everything, and is able to bring good out of everything, even when we mess up, even when things don’t go according to our plans—made with our small human minds and our limited vision. Even when our plans don’t include the messy, vulnerable perfection that is a baby. 

But maybe it’s precisely that baby who will be our salvation, who will bring untold goodness to the world, who will change our lives and our hearts for the better. This Christmas season, which is still going on, let’s try to remember that in embracing our human reality, with all its difficulties, we are also embracing God, who has entered into it…Who has raised it up to touch the Divine. When we eventually caress the face of that baby, born unplanned and unexpected, let us realize we are also touching the face of God, who enters our lives with His unexpected plans, and changes them forever. 


Better by Candlelight

Christmas is coming
The lights are bright
The houses are starting to sparkle

The kids and I
and Grandpa, too
trek across town
to see a Christmas concert
expecting choral beauty
and serene joy

It is….



We leave with ears ringing
and heads spinning
wowed but not wondered
overwhelmed but a little empty

Right now
with my heart a little shaky
I need a gentler kind of joy

The sparkle of a star
the flicker of a candle
that quiet choral music
that seems to be
the breath of angels

In that quiet stable
with the smell of hay
and the donkey
steaming warm air
through his soft nose
I’m more at peace

Away from all the hullabaloo
I reach for that little baby’s hand
the one who is vulnerable
who shares my weakness
who will know tears
but never lose hope

Away from all the bright lights
I’m more ok
Right now
my heart sees better
by candlelight


Christmas Cold

Hit by a cold
like a ton of bricks
two weeks before Christmas.


Squinting at the Christmas lights
(thank God they’re already up)
through my sleepy mole eyes,
I try to nap while the kids watch a show.


My toddler gives me the play by play:
“Dere’s a weindeer, mama, and a bid, bid spider.
He’s not the bad guy, he’s the bad guy, riiiiight?”

Wrapped in blankets,
I’m trying to keep from falling
off this little donkey
that is life.

Trying to keep riding along,
over the dips and bumps
in that ancient little path
towards Bethlehem.

Keeping company with that young girl
full of wonder,
wrapped in starlit silence,
riding that little dusky mule
towards motherhood.