My Mom gave me this ornament back in High School. It was a porcelain(ish) white Angel, holding a basketful of stars. Shortly after she gave it to me and we put it on the tree, I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light in which the protagonist, Vicki, grapples with light and darkness and life and death. I was going through my first real dose of the same struggle, and both the book and the ornament became a tangible symbol for me signifying that like Vicki, I was charged to choose light, and to bear light. Since we’ve been married that ornament has gone at the top of our tree as a reminder to me. After Mom died it took on even greater significance.
This December has been a dark one. December 2 I started bleeding and I soon discovered I was having a miscarriage. The baby was planned for and wanted and hoped for. I took 9 pregnancy tests (the last 4 of them had lines, the first two faint, the last two more solid). The miscarriage happened very early before anyone but us even knew I was pregnant. It was, unquestionably a blow. Since then my heart has felt hollow. The Christmas Season which I love even at the darkest times has seemed only a cruel reminder of what I had hoped for and prayed for and wanted. I’ve always loved Advent because it meant the whole church was pregnant in anticipation of the Christ Child. Obviously that metaphor is a painful one this year.
I have held tenaciously to my conviction that Christmas is about a light in the darkness. I’ve spent time each day covering myself with that thought. I reread A Ring of Endless Light. I accepted the charge anew. I looked at the ornament each time I passed the tree and remembered what it meant even as I struggled against the darkness and the sadness.
So when an exuberant game of tag tipped over the Christmas tree, and I heard the shattering of glass, and we righted the tree and I saw the white fragments of angel all over my floor, I was a devastated all over again. It wasn’t just that the ornament was special. It wasn’t just that my Mom gave it to me. It was that this symbol of light in the darkness was shattered at a time when I was fighting with everything in me to hold onto that light.
And then I saw the gift in what happened: My husband swept up the fragments, and knelt down and painstakingly sifted through the glass to find the pieces of the angel. He’s swept it into a bag. Tonight he plans to pick up some Super Glue and try to piece it back together.
This is the new picture I have to cling to. In his loving actions my husband showed me Christ. I am shattered. The light seems shattered. The joy and the hope of the season are like shards of glass on my dining room floor. But Christ is kneeling down, sifting through the sharp, tiny pieces, and putting me back together. Broken China is stronger when it’s mended. Light seeps through cracks. There is light in this darkness. And I’ve been given the grace to see it.
This is my Christmas.