The holiday season invites us to transcendence. The definition of transcendent is “beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience; surpassing the ordinary; exceptional”.
I think most of us desire to experience something deep down inside when we gather around the Thanksgiving table. Some spark of gratitude that reminds us we are made for something more than the rat race we can often find ourselves in. Some affirmation from another human that we are loved or noticed. I mean, who doesn’t want to sit in front of the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in cozy pajamas and feel something magical. Elegant Christmas concerts, twinkle lights, yummy treats, gift giving and receiving… Everything seems to be shouting at Christmastime… You are made for more!
Certainly, that more, more, more thing can distract me from what I actually want to live into this holiday season. My list might look like: more stuff, more cleaning the house, more experiences for my family memory book, more parties, more serving, more pretending I’m ok, more denying I’m completely exhausted and overwhelmed, more fighting or feeling guilty about money or plans with extended family, more longing for everything to be perfect (It’s SO NOT), more trying to control everything and make it work, repeat… I digress… Call me crazy, but I know you have a holiday crazy-town in your heart too! Have you ever experienced a “holiday” gathering where everyone in the family put on their best holiday smiles and carried on with traditions as usual even though there was some really painful and crazy relational dynamics in real life? Have you ever spent waaaaaayyyy to much money at Christmas because you wanted the experience of giving this or that to that special someone/s?
I think there might be a counterfeit message of the holidays that invites us to escape our real limits and lives. I’m going to call it fantasy. Fantasy can be understood as our strategy to escape reality.
As I’m preparing myself for the holidays this year, I want to notice two things. One, where am I most vulnerable to fantasy? And two, I want to notice how the transcendence of the season calls me, practically begs me to believe that there might be more to me.
There IS so much more to me and to you than our “merely physical humanness”! We were created with longing and desire for glory. A beauty, a creativity that can hardly be captured in words. We were created for belonging, You and I with God and He with us. We were created for love and communion that is deeper and more intimate and tender than we dare to hope for in our human relationships.
Oh! how it ministers to me when I remember God’s intentions for me, when I remember my transcendent nature. I feel less crazy. I feel more hopeful. I feel less like a bucking bronco in this life, bucking against all that’s wrong, and more like being led beside still waters and laying down in green pastures.
May carols, the dazzling ornaments, the thoughtful preparation, the gifting, the celebrations, the good drink and special food invite us to remember we are connected to the Triune God, we are the crown of his creation, his beloved children. Can we make space this holiday season to pay attention to our longings and honor our desire? What do we really want? May we not settle for lesser desires, but be deeply encouraged as we embrace what God has given.