by Lenora Rand

I have no clean underwear.

I’m a grown woman, “mature” even, and I have been traveling for work and putting in so many hours at the office and therefore not home enough to do laundry and now, it’s the Saturday before Christmas and I am finally ready to start having my lovely happy holiday, ready to start making the season bright… full out goodness and light… you know...the whole the Fa-la-la-la-palooza.

And I have no clean underwear.

Not to mention I am having some sort of dental emergency, which involves a lot of pain, for which I started on antibiotics last night. Words like abscess and root canal came into play, in the dentist’s office yesterday, and I was hurting so bad I just asked him to stick a couple of large needles of that numbing stuff into me, simply to have a few hours of relief. Which he did, God bless him.

And then there’s the state of the world.

Every time I’m ready to dive head first into the whole blissful angelswehaveheardonhigh Christmas celebration mode, there’s always something that stops me in my tracks. Just this morning I read on a friend’s Facebook feed about children sodomized on tape at Abu Ghraib. Mothers were arrested with young boys, and their boys were sodomized by the guards. How is this kind of evil not only possible but so pervasive? I don’t understand this at all. And it kills me. Where is God in all this? If God sent his Son to save the world from death and sin and evil, frankly, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Many of us carry around this picture of what the holidays are supposed to look like and frankly, that picture is a lot prettier and simpler and less confusing than what we actually get.

It reminded me of one of the Bible stories you hear during Advent, about the birth of John the Baptist (who, if you’re not into the Bible much, John turns out to be a big player in the story of Jesus).

When Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she went to hang out with her older cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was also pregnant at the time, with John the Baptist. Unlike young unwed mother-to-be Mary, Elizabeth, and her husband, the priest Zachariah, had been trying to have a baby for a long time.  Praying for one. For years and years. When an angel shows up at Zachariah’s work to tell him the good news that what he and Elizabeth have wanted and wished for and prayed for all these years is finally going to happen, Zack didn’t exactly start jumping up and down. He was actually kinda crotchedy about the whole thing. Probably because this miracle he’d been hoping for didn’t look the way he expected it to. When the angel gave him the news he practically said, Are you kidding me? After all this time? I was expecting this 20-30 years ago not now, not like this.

Zachariah had the angel Gabriel standing right in front of him and he’s not buying it…because the miracle he’s getting doesn’t match the picture perfect one he has in his head.  And Gabriel says, Hello. I’m Gabriel. I sit next to God. And that’s when the Bible says Gabriel got a bit pissy and strikes Zachariah dumb, unable to speak for a while -- kind of the angelic equivalent of a slap upside the head.

So, today, I’m going to try to take the lack of clean underwear and the excruciating dental emergency, and even the friggin crappy state of the world as my angelic slap upside the head.

A reminder that maybe, the picture-perfect picture of what we’re supposed to have can get in the way of seeing the beauty and wonder and miracle of the imperfection that we do have. Right in front of us.

A reminder to open my eyes to all that is perfectly imperfect in my life. And embrace it.

So over the next week or so, here’s how I’m going to try to have an imperfectly merry little Christmas.  

Make imperfect Christmas cookies. Not because they will end up tasting that good or looking like something you’d find on Pinterest, but because my daughters still want to make them with me even though they are both in college and you would think, so beyond such a thing.

Sing Christmas songs, loudly and possibly badly. I have found something happens when you sing, not even well, not like the perfectly coiffed people on American Idol, rather than just watching others do it. It seems like when you open your mouth and let sounds other than rational words come out, miraculously, that opens your heart a crack too. I do not understand how this happens, I only know that it does. And this not only seems to happen with singing…laughter and tears will do too.

Give imperfect Christmas gifts. I always want to give the perfect gift, the one that says to the person “I know you, I love you, you matter so much to me.” Unfortunately, that kind of gift is very difficult to find. Even on the internet. And especially when you’re working way too many hours. So I’m going to do my best, and then, maybe along with whatever I give, I’ll just add those words, too, out loud. And apologize that there isn’t anything I could buy or make that really equals love.

Love my imperfect world. With an imperfect love. This is so hard for me. I know I mention this all the time, but seriously, I really don’t understand why if God is God, he or she doesn’t intervene more. Stop the insanity. Do some major smiting. Use the lightning bolts.

Just fix things.

I heard this quote from Shane Claiborne recently: “For some strange reason, God doesn't want to change the world without us.”  And it IS strange, it’s crazy really, that God wants our imperfect asses in the game, in this “making the world right” game.

This is not the miracle I would do, if I were God.

But in Isaiah 56:1 God says: Guard my common good:    Do what’s right and do it in the right way. For salvation is just around the corner, my setting-things-right is about to go into action.”

So that’s what I’m going to try to do, to have a merry little Christmas.

Do what’s right to the best of my ability -- be kind, be present, speak up, live generously, offer grace, show love. Also, make Christmas cookies. Sing. Give some gifts.

I can guarantee that I won’t do any of that perfectly.

In fact, if I do any of it well at all, that will be a miracle.

And now, I’m going to start by washing some underwear.

Gloria. In excelsis Deo.