The Gift of Joy and Sorrow
A feeble winter sun kisses the earth and a chink of light slips through half-open curtains, resting like a morning greeting on the wall. Today I don’t want to greet the dawn, just fast forward to the dusk that heralds its closing.
I slide my feet into new Ugg boot style slippers and a half-smile creases my face, at the memory of the girl who only ever wore high heeled slippers. My husband would have said the Uggs were cute. A laugh escapes and good memories flood in, but in a moment sorrow comes and drapes its blanket around me again.
“Oh Lord”, I pray, “please transport me to the close of this day.”
Padding into the lounge in my clumsy Uggs I’m momentarily surprised at the smallness of the Christmas tree standing on a table. Until I remember that my youngest daughter now has our big family tree for the twins. Praise floods my soul with thankfulness for the lives of two precious boys, born too soon and too small, cocooned in prayer and technology for the first weeks of fragile life. I remember how thankful I felt at the close of every twenty four hours. Another milestone passed.
Tiny lights twinkle, reflecting red and gold against the Nativity scene by the tree. A sedate porcelain Mary and Joseph kneel either side of a china crib that cradles baby Jesus, covered in fragments of hay. Untouched, the tiny figures are just as I left them. A warm glow washes over me as I think of the boys, now three years old, stomping the shepherds, camels and sheep noisily along the dresser, yet only gently caressing the little family. It’s Christmas Day; our second Christmas without our special man, husband, father and granddad. Last Christmas we felt a numbness. It was too close to the loss. I hold back the tears, but cannot control the sense of loneliness and longing for the shadows to lengthen and the page to close on this day.
Grief and sorrow wrap around me like an all encompassing shroud. Outside my window the tall fir trees bend in a graceful sway, as if stooping in sadness. Raindrops trickle like tears down windows that have not yet let in the light of the morning. The sky begins to brighten and the moon slips unnoticed behind the dawn, hiding until the darkness of the passing day signals the need for its light again. I make coffee and flip on the radio. A Christmas Carol reminds me of the preciousness of this day and of my need to grasp it joyfully as it fades with every passing hour.
Stretching out my hand to rearrange the shepherds, camels and sheep, I smile at the realisation that this year my youngest daughter and her husband will be cooking Christmas dinner. Brightly wrapped presents around the tree remind me of God’s incredible gift of His Son and I push all thoughts of sorrow to one side, focusing instead on the miracle of my Saviour’s birth. The joy of giving fills my soul as a flutter of happiness sneaks in and overshadows the sadness. Unexpectedly, my heart almost bursts with a longing to greet this day and live it to His glory, right through to its finish. I gather up the gifts and load up the car.
It has been a good day and at its end I stand in my front driveway, taking in the sheer beauty of a clear dark sky filled with myriads of minute lights. The vastness and beauty of God’s glorious Creation fills the gaping void of loss with thankfulness, as the words of a lovely song echo around my mind.
‘Hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered; this is my God, the Servant King.’
Tomorrow I will open the curtains on the rest of my life. My house is sold, though as yet, there is no new home on the horizon. There will be many more days when grief fills my soul. But my trust is in Jesus, the Servant King. Joy bubbles up from somewhere deep within my spirit and settles with new found contentment around my heart.
Turning my key in the lock, I fix my gaze one last time on the wonder of God’s Creation in a beautiful night sky, before closing the door on this old day, that is already beginning to fade.
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