I spent the first day of the year erasing the old.
It was dreary and drizzling and too chilly to attend to the outside Christmas lights this morning, and so I began my day by defrocking the Christmas tree and putting away decorations inside the house. By the time I’d dismantled the interior of Christmas, the drear had disappeared and the drizzle had dried. I went outside and began removing the outside Christmas lights (a much easier task than hanging them).
I repacked the bins labeled “Christmas” that I’d emptied after Thanksgiving and hefted them to the appropriate shelf in the garage. The tree had to remain in the living room, barren of lights and decorations (and many of the needles), until my son or husband got home to help, but by 5 p.m. the tree was gone, the needles vacuumed, and my home appeared as if Christmas never even happened.
As my husband and I have watched TV in the evenings, we’ve watched numerous commercials by ServPro — the restoration specialists — the company that promises to restore a home or business damaged by flood or fire or other calamities “like it never even happened,” and that phrase ran through my mind this evening as the basket of fake plants supplanted the evergreen that had filled my home with fragrance and the visual essence of Christmas.
Christmas is over. I return to work tomorrow. Celebrating the New Year was merely a day of work before I return to work, and it is all good.
These past few months, my husband has been organizing and cleaning the garage he has ignored (essentially) for the past 18 years, and, unfortunately, his organizational skills have unearthed boxes and crates of my belongings that I moved to the garage because I wasn’t sure quite what to do with them at the time. One of those boxes was filled with 20-year-old and older Precept Bible study workbooks and completed homework or notes. My job was to go through the box and determine, first, to keep or to trash, and, then, to burn or to recycle. Time has a way of erasing my memory of the effort employed in completing the Bible study, making it easier to get rid of the stack of papers. Pages with personal, identifying information are burned; pages that aren’t are recycled. Most were recyclable.
But within the box, I found a poem I had written, most likely inspired by the study of the book of Romans. Even though it contained no personal, identifying information, it was a record of my heart. I neither recycled or burnt it; this page was a keeper. It spoke of my understanding of God’s love:
Thank you for your love, O my Father.
It comes down and reaches out to me,
deep within my heart,
manifested in the simplest things.
It fills me.
It reaches beyond my inconsistencies,
Beyond the troubles of the day.
Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that your love is there,
dependent only on you
for you are love.
How glad I am that the whole of your love
is outside of me,
yet I feel it,
can’t live without it.
Evident in your son’s sacrifice.
Evident in your grace,
in your acceptance of me,
The clean house is a gift. The return to normal is another gift. The treasure of another Christmas passed in the Dagen family — a gift. And this box, mostly trashed but containing a moment of enlightenment, a picture of understanding of God’s love for me — priceless.
Twenty years later, the Bible study, unfortunately, is like ServPro and my packaged Christmas decor — “like it never even happened” except for this poem, this evidence that the study went beyond my homework, beyond the discussion and accompanying lecture, into my heart and out onto paper.
The year 2014 — and the Christmas it contained — will be much like those as well. I won’t remember all the details, but I will remember what touched my heart, my mind, and my soul. And most of that is God’s grace, His amazing grace, most evident in the sacrifice of His Son born whose birth we celebrate on Christmas day, and very little of me.
As it should be.