Day 13 of Advent: living mystery

“Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of your own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others in the world.” –Bonhoeffer

American Christmas traditions reek of busy movement and to-do lists and discount shopping, and suddenly it’s January and the season of hopeful expectation really only made us more exhausted.

Bonhoeffer wrote letters to his loved ones at Christmas time while he sat in a prison cell.

He did not participate in the traditions or eat the Christmas cookies, exchange presents or sing carols with his dearest friends.

All of Christmas was in his mind and in his heart, the mystery held strong in his darkest hours.

All these years later, we still have something to learn from this man, don’t we?

The other night, we drove around our town and looked for Christmas lights.

We saw a tree on a little lake, lit up with twinkling white and blue lights, reflected perfectly in the water it stood on.

We saw reindeer and snowmen and a Santa or two.

We saw green wreaths hanging from front doors.

Eliot stopped talking for a minute and said,

“Merry Christmas, Mommy. Merry Christmas, Daddy.”

In that magical quiet, the Mystery came to him.

He got it.

He knew there, as only a toddler knows, his place in the story, his joy in being a part of Emmanuel, God With Us.


May we quiet down enough to know the Mystery.

May we cherish this season enough to not miss it completely.

May we become a little less American, and a little more human this Christmas.

Hallelujah and Amen.


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