On this day when we remember the birth of a man who would be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, being everything that is right about humanity in the midst of everything that is wrong about humanity, it seems appropriate to talk about love.
A funny thing is happening to me as I approach 50. Well, to be accurate, it is one of the many funny things happening to me as I approach 50. Some of the funny things are actually funny, some not so funny. Getting older is often not fun at all, truth be told. This has mostly to do with what is going on physically: the greying, the balding, the hair springing out of the ears (why the hell in the ears? WTF?). But there is an aspect of getting older that is truly beautiful. It is in the beautiful category that I’ve noticed this “funny thing” that is happening to me.
I am becoming less and less reserved when it comes to showing and telling people that I love them. This may not seem like such a funny or amazing thing to those of you to whom this comes easily or to those of you born into naturally effusive ethnic groups (you know who you are). I have always felt a great warmth and affection for many people but have not always been very good at expressing it. Either it felt awkward or I was concerned it would be taken wrong or I was too caught up in my own personal crap to not be thinking of others. But lately I have adopted a “damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead” approach to loving people. And, frankly, it feels awesome.
Last week I wrote out Christmas cards for all of my co-workers. There are twenty of us and the job could have been quick if I just signed my name and stuffed the cards into envelopes. However, instead of the easy route, I decided to take the time to write each of my co-workers a personal note about how much I appreciate them and value them as people. This exercise forced me to sit and think about each person in turn, what unique qualities they have, how I had observed things in each of them that I admired, and then to put those thoughts into writing. I already have a high regard for my team at work but now I can say without a doubt that I love them, each and every one. There was something about getting outside the selfish thought patterns and actions of my day and focusing on others that brought a profound love to the surface.
I went in on a day off to bring in the cards because I couldn’t wait to deliver them. I actually went to work when I didn’t have to, driving through crappy weather. Love makes you do crazy things.
Today is really a day about that crazy little thing called love. After all, it was love, a mad and uninhibited love, that caused God to send his Son to earth, to history, to us. Christmas Day is less about the Gift of God than it is about the Giddiness of God. Imagine, the Supreme Being loving you and me so much that He goes so far as to become one of us, born to a young woman in a ramshackle Roman province, born into an oppressed group of people “walking in darkness”, born vulnerable and dependent. Love in the flesh, delicate and soft. This is God. Crazy.
Why did He do it? I truly believe it is because God’s thoughts are on us all the time. He ponders our unique characteristics, our personalities, our circumstances, our humanity and He loves us all the more deeply for doing so. He loves us so much – past, present and future – that he took that crazy step, that ridiculous action, that insanity wrapped in intense affection, and sent His Son, Jesus: the Love of God for all of us incarnated – flesh, blood and bone.
By acting out of this crazy love, God made himself vulnerable; vulnerable to rejection, to misinterpretation, to the worst in humanity, which would rip apart the best He had to offer and throw it back in His face. Only love can explain this action, a love unfettered and unconditional.
So this is Christmas… and who do you love?
Whether you believe this interpretation of Christmas or whether you think I must be stoned on some spiked eggnog, I hope you see the power of love in it all. That’s the message I’m trying to convey; more than just a reflection on the meaning of Christmas I want what I write here to be an impetus for you to do and say love in your life to all the people in your life.
I don’t want this to sound cliche but damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead: Life is too short to not love people fully and completely in words and in actions.
Ultimately, that defines the funny thing that is happening to me as I approach 50. If my affection makes you feel awkward I make no apology. You are being loved so deal with it. Better yet, receive the love and pass that shit on. How’s that for a Christmas theme? Pass that shit on!!!
So if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to get a hug from me, some words of affection, a card written out for you, an “I love you”, realize it is given with no strings attached, no agenda except to make love a defining characteristic of my life.
If that sounds nutty than that is high praise, because love like that is as crazy as Christmas