As far as religious paradox goes, the radical vulnerability of God has got to take the cake (or the stollen, the bunuelos, the figgy pudding, the buche de noel, the truchas de navidad).
As I've lost my grip on all the other Christmas traditions still dear to me -- the weekly advent services leading up; making pepparkakor, rum balls, and sweet rye bread; practicing my piano part for the "Jesu Bambino" trio with my sisters; the pickled herring and cold duck; singing carols to myself while skiing through Lester/Amity's quiet woods of birch and pine; even the iconic tree itself -- even as I've let these slip away in the context of new relationships and warmer climes (differently rich and delightful), there is one, sparkling mystery of the season that will not let me go.
It is this: the notion that the Creator of all that is, the One who endures before and beyond, the Master Storyteller of life and the midwife of our deaths has chosen also to be a tiny thing of flesh and blood cast as helpless as any manatee pup, fledgling warbler, or leatherback hatchling on the mercy of the world.
And each year, within every cycle of time, even as the times change and our lives too, it comes round again: the radical vulnerability of God, willingly chosen out of desire for intimacy with a complicated, hard-headed and desperately tender world.
For isn't that the Christmas story? That God chose in this moment not to strong-arm or control but to issue the gentlest of invitations to the world, to each person who inhabits our blue-green planet the opportunity for caretaking nothing less than the embodiment of all that is divine.
I wish for you the miracle of embracing a vulnerable sacredness with all of a new parent's life-changing terror and love.
Peace and Joy to you and yours.
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