The Christmas season, with all its grand memories of Christmas’ past, set me to thinking about the great paradox of Home: that place we are always trying to find; leaving to arrive; indeed losing to find. Home is a thing we may have only by not wanting it; get by not choosing it. Home is where we are born by accident; fall into by stumbling over it. Home is what we find only in the last place we look.
In conversations with anyone patient enough to listen to me ramble on about life, which is life in Christ, I will often return to the idea of “home” at exactly the moment I have wandered too far away from it and come upon a washed-out bridge of my thoughts; stalling at some deep canyon or other. And it always has the same effect: We move again. We walk again—two humans, arm in arm.
Because home is a place of perfect paradox; which is paradoxically a place of perfect peace. It is a door which suddenly appears in the middle of nowhere, becoming the one place where two things that should not go together somehow do.
Like life. And the peace of living along with it.
A distinct recollection I have of Christmas Eve in my childhood home (only now that I am recollecting it) is the absence of an ever-present terror in my life: selfishness. Which seems at odds with the occasion because I was never a gift giver, but ever a gift receiver. Yet the home, the family, the parents, the atmosphere, the lights, the tree, the gifts, the silence, the night—everything and everyone around hearth and home, it seems, had been captured for one Holy Night by a Spirit whose greatest gift was casting out selfishness from our midst. At the very throne of the Expectation of Getting—Unselfishness reigned supreme.
It is not to say there wouldn’t be selfishness later; bringing with it jealousy, anger, discontent, and discourtesy; but that evening, “The Night before Christmas,” two things at least seemed to be happening at the same time; two things supposedly opposed became friends; two things normally separated by time itself occupied the same space:
The Expected was somehow, for its expectedness, the Most Unexpected.
The child-soul yearning for tomorrow’s joy was somehow, for its yearning, finally content in today’s.
The mystery was somehow, for its twilight mysteriousness, the great answer.
The certain was somehow, for its calendrical certainty, the biggest surprise—one watched and waited for all night.
The formal was somehow, for the deep ruts of its formality, all the more festive.
The common, the possible, the closest and the real was somehow—for its wide and mighty commonness, possible-ness, closeness, and realness—the most uncommon, the most impossible, the furthest away, and the most magical.
Home was somehow, for its homeliness, a heaven.
The advent of Christ is the advent of home. It is God’s homecoming, the kingdom come. The door at which Jesus stands outside—the door out—is the door home.