When they ask for a story I pull up blankets and cover them with words. That is what made them. And that is what sustains them and they need this before they can sleep, words to lay down on.
So I pluck from thin air, the only way any story comes. Something from nothing, a gift handed down.
“Once upon a time…” This will be one of those, a possibility.
“Once upon a time, there was a baby.”
“Was I the baby? Is this about me?” Littlest sits up on her side of the bed, animated, pats my cheek in the shadows. She is like us, always wanting the story to be about her, of how she came to be.
“No.” Not you as a baby, I say. “But this is a story about you.” About all of us, about our coming to.
I turn towards the window. The front porch light casts long shadows out across the lawn, out toward the woods. Snow’s falling. Sky letting go of her down in the dark to blanket all the fields.
“There once was a baby. And the baby was born into a family that was lost. Lost in a spinning, dizzy world and a long time ago, the family had had a map but one brother said it was outdated, irrelevant, and a sister threw it over a shoulder and who had memorized the red lines of the map?”
“And instead of journeying in that direction headed toward home, the family all stumbled and fumbled around, tripping over each other and grabbing at things found on the road, all these things. But things never help you find your way home.”
The moon gives away her light, soft white laying out across us too.
“The worse of it was, that to ask for help to get home, the brothers and sisters needed to know their names, — how do you find home unless you know who you are? where you come from? — and they had forgotten their names. They had all forgotten who they really were.
The longer that they were lost, the more they forgot who they were, and the more selfish they became — because that is what happens inside when you’re scared there won’t be enough. So they hoarded what they had, and ate what food they found, and who would give away?
Some brothers went hungry, and some sisters, their stomach’s gnawed loud and late into the night, and the family forgot that they were one, all connected to each other, and when one ached, they all hurt — though in ways they didn’t even know.
“But what about the baby? Was the baby hungry too?” Shalom squeezes my arm.
“Ah, no, the baby was not hungry because the baby was the one who gave away.
The baby had given up the vaults of heaven to be born in the valley of a feed trough, and the cradle for the baby was the manger for the animals, the place where all the ones wandering in the fields came to be fed. Born in Bethlehem, the town with the name that means house of bread, the baby came to feed all the lost ones.
“But Mama, how does a baby feed anyone? How did the baby feed them?” She uses her hand to turn my face toward her and she says it so close I can feel it: “Did the baby die?”
I don’t know if I’m still breathing.
Does she know who the Baby is?
I whisper it:
“Why would you ask if the baby died?”
She presses close to me, warm, and she cup her hand to me ear so I can hear what she can hardly say.
“Because if the baby died they would have something to eat.”
It’s so quiet I can hear my heart.
I can hear the hunger of who I am.
For I AM.
And what He said.
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever:
and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
~ Jn 6:48-58
He reveals Himself to little children and it’s the child who becomes the storyteller with her one question. Hope-Girl tangles her fingers through mine and Shalom waits for the answer she’s already given.
“Yes, the baby gave Himself away — and He gave up the heavens who were not even large enough to contain Him and lets Himself be held in a hand.
And He is Who is Spirit, He forsakes the boundlessness of space and confines Himself to skin and gives up the starfields, takes on shape and wears the bones.
The mystery so large becomes the baby so small and infinite God becomes infant.
He gave up the River of the water of Life that flows from His Throne Room to float the nine months on the amniotic waters. And He who carved the edges of the Cosmos, He curved Himself into fetal ball in the dark, tethers Himself to the uterine wall of a virgin, and let’s His cells divide, light all splitting white.
The baby gave His life away to the lost ones that they might find their names and real selves.
It’s the season of the greatest give away ever, Christmas about the Christ who gave it all away.
Love that gave not to those who loved Him.
Love that gave not to those who could give back, but Love that gave to those who were poor, bankrupt, enemies —
the thieves who stole instead of waiting to receive, instead of longing to give.”
Hope ‘s breathing softly, but so awake.
“And yes, Shalom — the Baby did die, gave away His life. For God so love the world… He gave. The greatest giveaway ever… so we would never be hungry again.”
“Yes,” Hope says. “Yes…”
“And who will give away, and their lives?” I am telling the story now to me. “Why is the world hungry when God’s people have bread? Are bread? What is there more to be in this life than to be bread for another man?”
I hurt and I know it.
“You’re thinking ’bout Xiomara again, aren’t you Mama?” Shalom strokes my cheek.
“I think that’s what we should call Christmas from now on…” Hope’s turned to the window now, out toward the world:
“Let’s rename Christmas — The Great Give-Away.”
“Isn’t that why the baby came?”
The three of us lay looking out at the fields. This story has possibility….
The sky ‘s giving away her white warmth for all the world.
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.
Next Week four weeks, let’s prayerfully consider: The Practice of Christmas How do we prepare for the coming of Christ? How do we PRACTICE Christmas? We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….
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