I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
even more than I usually do.
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you…
Early Saturday morning, I head home to spend a few weeks back in the Pacific Northwest. Very much looking forward to seeing friends and family and just being home. I know I haven’t been away for a long time, really, but this season just brings my love of home right to the fore. After all, it’s all the things we do for love that feel like Christmas. Basically, I want this whole post to be quotations from Christmas songs, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. To get things started, here are a couple pictures of my cats getting in the Christmas mood.
So, my final week of classes included only two actual classes, one of which was a group presentation. I still have two assignments, one of which I’m in the midst of and the other not due until the end of January. School-wise, this semester ended up being really good. There were some things that were difficult to love (Research Methods) and some that were interesting in content and kind of awful in delivery (UN) but generally I really enjoyed what I learned and my professors were, generally, pretty wonderful. So I’m grateful for that, because things would have been a great deal worse if I came all this way for a lame education.
Also this week were a couple fun events that really helped facilitate my procrastination. On Sunday, I sang carols with Choral Society in Heuston Station to raise money for a charity and we’ll be in front of the General Post Office this Friday for another charity. It’s a lot of fun and who doesn’t like caroling, yeah? So really enjoyed that. On Monday evening, I attended the Graduate Students Union Christmas Commons and it was absolutely fabulous. We had a three course meal in the Great Hall at Trinity, then moved next door for dancing (though there wasn’t a ton of actual dancing, they had some technical difficulties with the music or something). It was 1920s/Great Gatsby themed and was just generally, all-around good fun. On Tuesday night, we had our last Community Group of the year with dinner and everything. There was a great deal of laughter involved, so you know it thoroughly enjoyable (and probs extended our lives by several months in one go).
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m super pumped to go home. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Dublin and will look forward to returning in January, but I’m glad that I’ll be home for Christmas. In the immortal words of the Muppets, it’s the summer of the soul in December. There’s a great short story I my family reads every year around this time called If He Had Not Come. A young boy wakes up on Christmas morning and nothing is different from normal–no decorations, not presents, no goodwill toward men, nothing. He goes down the road to the Hospital of the Good Samaritan–an empty lot, with a gateway arch inscribed with the words of the title. He then rushes back to bed and wakes up again to the real Christmas morning and says simply, “You came! You came! Thank you for coming.” It’s such a piercing reminder how connected everything around us this season is to a small human in the Levant who changed the world.
In my last post, I was pondering what the world would be like without Christianity, particularly around this time of year. Because pagan Europe certainly had midwinter festivals and things and some of those traditions are actually preserved in modern Christmas celebrations. But at the same time, nothing would be the same because it would still be a season of hope. Hope that spring would come, that the crops wouldn’t fail, that the Vikings wouldn’t attack… Instead, we live in the reality of hope (if that’s possible?) because all our hopes were fulfilled in Jesus’ birth (and life, death, and resurrection). We don’t live in hope anymore, it’s more like expectant waiting. We know that spring is coming (and so much more) and we’re just sitting here tapping our feet impatiently.
I love Christmas (let me make this clear) and going home to see friends and family. But it’s so much more than that. It’s even more, dare I say it, than songs and presents. It will come without ribbons, it will come without tags, it will come without packages, boxes, or bags. It will come because two thousand some years ago, he came, and that changed everything.
In singing carols this past week, a particular line of one of my favorites stuck with me, relevant to my life, my studies, and the world at large. Bid thou our sad division cease and be thyself our King of Peace.
So here’s to peace on earth.