Our family has a tradition of going into a forest the day after Thanksgiving, cutting a tree, bringing it home, and then decorating it and our home for Christmas. I like the Christmas season, and I like to start it early. (I also like to on “black Friday” as a way of saying “no’ to the incessant commercialism that marks what earlier Christians called Christ Mass.)
But this Christmas was different. Instead of decking our halls, we packed up all our belongings for a move to Santa Rosa.
It was strange to see our home stripped of its decor, and to have boxes strewn about instead of Christmas decorations. I missed the lights, the advent calendar, and a towering tree with familiar ornaments. The best we could pull off was a Charlie Brown 2 foot tree that a friend gave us out of pity.
In relocating to another place I felt dislocated at Christmas.
But my dislocation was nothing compared to the dislocation Jesus experienced when he left his Heavenly Father’s side to become a human. Born in a barn as his parents were traveling, Jesus never owned a home, traveled from town to town without a place to lay his head, until his closest friends abandoned him and he was nailed to a cross. Three days later… well, you know the story.
Dislocation is hard. It disrupts our lives and sets us on edge. But it also opens us to a change we might not experience in the familiar rhythms of our routines. Perhaps this is why some theologians suggest that the best years of Israel were in the desert, and their worst years occurred after they settled.
For me, my disruption has had hidden gifts: it has deepened my appreciation for the love of God that would send his son, it has drawn me closer to my family as we have gone though this together, and it has opened me to trust in God’s good guidance. And it’s not been all that bad: I still got to watch A Christmas Story.