Saturday, January 4, 2020

Christmas and the Presence that Saves Us

I spend a lot of time "inside my head." I have always been this way. I ponder things, or I worry about them. I become preoccupied with my own insecurity and anxieties to a point that hinders me from decisive action, or robs me of the opportunities for silence and peace.

Nothing is ever simple inside my head.

I would get stuck there, perpetually trying to figure things out, were it not for the fact that there are other people in my life who call me out of myself. They require me to live in the vital space of relationship, with its surprises, problems, requirements for action and empathy, joys, sorrows, moments of time, and all the features of a concrete otherness that continually provokes me to "go beyond myself."

I can be immersed in my own thoughts or worries and suddenly Josefina comes bouncing into the room (as she often does) with a question about school or with stories about what she did that day, or Eileen needs to talk about a work situation, or someone else in the house has a need for help or a gift to share. This changes the moment, and introduces something new from outside myself.

I can no longer pretend that I construct my life alone, by myself. These other people are here. They are concretely, irreducibly here, in my history, in this moment. 

This particular relationality in daily existence is basic to the experience of being human. It is necessary if we are to remain sane. It is also a sign of a greater, deeper, historical presence that comes from outside ourselves and saves us definitively.

Jesus is here.

I can't "hold myself together" with a comprehensive understanding of myself, or with the accumulation of stuff, or with anything that I try to capture with my conniving and my worrying.

Instead something happens. Someone comes. Someone Else is here.

This is what Christmas teaches me. Of all the billions of people born in human history, there is one who -- right now -- says to me, "I am the meaning of your life."

"I am what you are searching for," Jesus says. "I am the one who comes to transform your life into a relationship with me, which is the real way of living yourself. You can't 'make yourself' although you keep trying to, in an effort that leads to desperation again and again, because what you're looking for is beyond all your thinking and understanding and expression; really, you know it's out of your reach...."

"But don't be anxious. I have come to dwell with you. I am here, right now, right where you are. And I love you."

Whatever darkness you suffer, remember that He is here.

Whatever sorrow, confusion, guilt: He is here.

He wants to bring you through. He loves you.

"I have come into the world to be its light" (John 12:46).

Rejoice! It's still the Christmas season. Happy Christmas Season!