It was a magical Christmas tree, perfectly shaped and robustly full. Perusing the Christmas tree lot, we had all spied it with excitement. This was the one!
It precisely fit in its rightful spot in the den. This tree, with its impressive size and massive appearance, begged to be decorated. Although the hour was late, we strung the lights in high spirits and gingerly hung our cherished family ornaments with great care.
It was a sight to behold. With childlike awe, we delighted in its beauty.
In the middle of the night there came a deafening crash and a shattering of glass. Our Christmas pride and joy had toppled to the ground. My heart sank as I looked over the catwalk to see what was now a fallen tree, a tangled mess of lights, broken irreplaceable family ornaments, pine needles strewn everywhere, sap, and water generously spilled all over the carpet. The cleanup was a daunting tear filled task. I found slivers of glass for weeks. Our tree was never quite the same. Sadly, bungee cords held it up for the remainder of the Christmas season. Our joy was dashed.
Sometimes, big trees fall forever changing the landscape of our lives, fragmenting our hearts, security, and joy. We find ourselves wading through a complicated tear stained maze of despair and the sharp jagged shards of raw emotions that continually cut through every fiber of our being. The loss of a loved one can do that to a person - to a family.
In February of 2006, our youngest son was killed tragically in a car accident, and our family was shattered in a million pieces. Living in the aftermath of these painful circumstances and the tangled mess of loss, was excruciatingly hard. The first Christmas our family was held together by the bungee cords of prayer and the kindness of others.
The heart certainly gets scraped against during the Christmas season. Family gatherings and celebrations painstakingly highlight the huge crater of loss as well as the broken pieces of sadness that are still strewn across the surface of the hearts of the survivors, who must find a new way to live and celebrate.
There are some things in life that we just don’t get over; we learn to carry them. Loss is one of them. But with each year, the hard edges of grief have softened.
I keep learning that joy and sorrow can coexist in one heart, one moment, one season, and one lifetime. Strangely, we can choose to accept their presence as travel companions on this life journey because the hope of Christ points to a greater spiritual reality, there is more… My friends, there is more…
During this season, I try to focus not only on what has been lost, but also on what still remains; those precious ones that God has given to me to freely love. I accept that my heart will be heavier during this season, but I allow myself the room to cry, to grieve with the One who understands and wipes my tears away.
Then, I go turn on the tree lights, quietly sit, and savor the moment - because light always brightens the darkest places…
Scriptures to Ponder:
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” ( Psalm 126:5)
“By the tender mercies of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)
Author: Maryanne Abbate