It’s close in here.
Re-arrangements. Re-groupings. Sometimes it fits…other times, not so much.
When life shifts the view changes. And that can make for one tight squeeze.
In the early morning hours sleepy bodies do the awkward dance between polite and annoyed. It’s easy to get bumped in tight quarters. One needs breakfast, another needs to make a lunch, and a third is trying to make their way to the laundry room to get a jump start on the piles building up in the hamper. A fourth, the littlest, needs a reminder to brush his teeth when the fifth one gets out of the bathroom.
It is a juggling, jostling, why was that left there; there are no more eggs….again; who’s turn is it to do the dishes, kind of place.
Words can be sharp here. Faces can frown quickly here.
It is a place where the pressing and the squeezing become a refiner’s fire that can sharpen us only in the best of ways if we let it.
We just have to be willing to go to the flames.
It is the second week of Advent and I am thinking of Joseph and Mary and their own re-arrangement, their own displacement.
So often their journey to Bethlehem looks so….pretty.
The holy couple, the two of them traveling alone against a tranquil desert backdrop seemingly lost in their thoughts about the baby about to be born.
No other travelers.
No one to share the road with, no one to whisper why must we go back to our birthplace to be counted by a paranoid despot?
No Roman Soldiers in the background showing their muscle. No one is doing the awkward dance of politeness and annoyed because everything is Just. Too. Close.
Yet, the narrative hints that Bethlehem was teeming, a town so full that there was no room in any of the inns.
Perhaps, then, the journey looked more like this:
Long lines of strangers piled up under the glare of soldiers making sure they tow the line.
On backs, on donkeys, on carts, and on wagons.
A woman who is nine months pregnant knows the pressure of her unborn child pressing down into her pelvis. To sit on the bony back of a donkey for miles, every bump and snag in the road sending spasms of pain through her body is not pretty. Did the pressure of her circumstances bring forth any sort of harshness from her lips? Or do the paintings of her have it right, instead? Ethereal. Blissful in blue. Immune to the human condition?
A man who wants to do the right thing, who allows himself to be caught up in a drama he did not ask for…does this man ever succumb to the frustration of not being able to secure safe lodging for his wife and unborn child by crying out, “Are you kidding me?” “What is going on? This is so…..stupid!”
They were, after all, just a couple of humans carrying the divine.
Was the NO ROOM AT THE INN the last straw?
When all is said and done, straw for straw…when you’ve done everything you know how to do…when you’ve said yes to the hard thing…is this where you end up? In the back of a cave…tucked into obscurity? How is that for a tight squeeze.
It is what I am trying to hang onto when I light the second candle.
When I am squeezed it is an invitation to let go.
To submit to the refining work of God is an invitation to be who I am really supposed to be.
All the impatience and frustration comes to the surface and I get to decide.
Will I deny the work that needs to be done in my heart or will I give in to the flames and embrace the forging that brings me….just another traveler on this planet closer to being a human carrying the divine.