This may not have been the most chaotic, upside-down, violent year in history, but it certainly felt like it sometimes. Our world just seemed completely off-kilter. This little spinning planet was filled with new wars, old wars, disease, power-hungry politicians, corrupt leaders, hurting people, famine, and countless other atrocities. I can't answer why. I simply don't have the perspective from my vantage point in this giant universe to completely understand.
Still, I don't think the story of Christmas is at odds with our current state of existence. It tells, in a rather beautiful way, how peace entered a violent, chaotic, and lonely world through a fragile, innocent vessel. Not unlike today, the rulers, religious leaders, and desperate people of the day expected a political or military leader to lead them to victory over real and imagined enemies. But, that is not the story we find. Instead, we read of strength, power, peace, and life, through the birth of our most basic need in human form. Love.
Love is an unstoppable force. It lives everywhere, showing itself in even the most unexpected places. I certainly stumbled upon it this year. It was all around me. I heard it in the sound of music playing through my MP3 player. And it washed over me at live concerts. I read it in the words of authors and poets. I saw it in the kindness and patience of those who work to educate children and help families. I was comforted by it through the listening ears of those I call Friend, in my most difficult moments. I was inspired by it through the courageous words of young people I was honored to speak with and train. I believed in it again because of companionship I never expected, or deserved. And I was saved by it, over and over, in the quiet solitary moments, when a peace I will never understand fell on me.
Our world will not stop turning around us. Bad things will still happen. But, if we are willing to see, we will find glimpses of hope, life, love,and goodness all around us. And yes, if we are open, we will even find peace. I think we all could use a little more of that these days.
(I put the following video together rather quickly, using pics from around the internet. The pictures are not always the highest quality, but they work. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs. If you've had a hectic, crazy, difficult day...or year, sit back and watch/listen)