Today is the day after Thanksgiving, which means it’s officially the first day of the holiday season – aka the first day I can [openly] listen to my favorite Christmas music stations on Spotify, a cause for rejoicing in and of itself.
I have a list in my head of things I want to do this holiday season, my first living in San Francisco. I want to see the gingerbread house at the Fairmont, get fancy Christmas cocktails at the Palace Hotel, and see the Christmas lights in Alameda with my dear friends and sweet kiddos, an annual tradition.
I want to soak up the magic of this season, the “other-ness” and special, set apart feeling the month of December brings. I want to embrace that sense that we all get a break from humdrum, everyday life, and enjoy a time of year marked by magic and mystery, and the tantalizing sense that anything is possible.
This year more than any other, what I really want to experience this season is that “anything is possible” feeling, the sense that magic and miracles are just around the corner.
Because I don’t know about you, but I could really freaking use some miracles right about now.
I look around me this year – at the world, at my circles of friends and family, at my own life – and there is so much that is broken – which is true every year, of course, but this one feels especially harsh and raw.
I look at the world, at the daily barrage of news about mass shootings and sexual assault and ethnic cleansing and I feel overwhelmed and grieved and hopeless, like nothing will ever change and we’ll all just keep hurting each other.
I look at my community, at the young men and women I ran by in Golden Gate Park yesterday who were spending Thanksgiving, not cozily surrounded by friends and family and too much pie, but alone and on the streets, and I feel broken down by the sense of “this is not as it should be.”
I look at the lives of my nearest and dearest friends and family, and there are so many stories of anxiety, fear, sadness and uncertainty, of wounds that run deep and problems that seem hopeless and my heart hurts with and for them.
I look at my own life, and there is so much in it that is beautiful, that brings joy and deep, deep gratitude – and there is also so much in it that is broken, that brings grief and pain and a deep yearning for restoration and wholeness.
If ever there were a time for miracles, this would be it.
So this holiday season, as I listen to Christmas music and savor traditions and drink my eggnog, what I’m really looking for are miracles. Miracles in this broken world and in our broken lives. Moments where Heaven touches Earth, where God shows up in big, beautiful, redemptive ways and just full on blows it out of the water.
This season I’m praying that broken hearts get healed and broken relationships get restored, that community replaces isolation, new life replaces death, that crazy, logic-defying, “Only God” stories get told, over and over again.
Because the God I believe in – not just at Christmas but year-round – is not a God of the status quo, of the same old thing, of “that’s just the way it is” or “just another year.” He is a God of moving and shaking, of cooking up all sorts of delightful surprises from behind the scenes and bursting forth with them when you least expect it.
So in the midst of twinkly lights and Santa’s workshop and mysterious presents under the tree, I’m praying hard that all the wonder and expectation and delight of this season would translate to big, beautiful, crazy miracles, in my life, in the lives of people I know and love, and in this broken and beautiful world we’re all living in together.
I’m looking forward with hopeful expectation to the miracles this season will bring, and asking God to open my eyes to what He’s already up to, because it’s never what I expect and it is always, always better than I could have imagined.