Tidings of Comfort and Joy
For two weeks the words of that Christmas song floated through my mind. The chorus won’t leave me alone. Think about it. The whole thing is a strange set up. First angels show up. Then they say, Hey. Dude, chill. Don’t be scared.
Think about it. If angels showed up at my door, I don’t care what words they used, I’d be terrified. Typically angels might say they bring good news. But what generally comes into play, at least before anything good happens, think about it, long travels, confusion and travails. Wandering the desert, birthing a baby in the barn, trips to Egypt by foot; that kind of thing.
What does an angel look like? How would I know? Do I really think angels are tall, Hollywood-good-looking men with gigantic wing spans made of white eagle feathers? Think about it. That kind of angel won’t fit through my door.
Or maybe angels are like six-year old girls, dressed in ruffled white dimity, heads bowed and hands folded in prayer, walking down the aisle for their first communion ceremony. We say the words, Oh, look at the sweet little angels. (Sigh and smile.) Oh, we and our imaginations, equating seeming innocence with angels. What about the little boys in the other line, like the red-head, the one with cowlicks in his hair and the slingshot sticking out of his back pocket? At him, we might frown. He’s innocent too, isn’t he? The little “devil”. (Grin and giggle.)
About a month ago a stranger knocked at my door. He came afoot, a small pack slung over his shoulder. My Espanol is not good enough for a full blown conversation. But I get by. He asked me something, perhaps directions. I explained that what he asked was beyond my limited comprehension. So we proceeded to have a small conversation, the kind typical between two strangers. Sure is a nice day. Hot though. Yes, very hot. Been walking all day? I still have a long way to go. Sure is a hot day to be out walking all day. This is not an exact translation. But you get the idea—small talk. Comfortable.
Eventually the man asked if I would bring him a drink of water. I felt foolish that I had not thought to bring him a drink. He was obviously hot and, no doubt, thirsty. I scurried into the kitchen and filled a large glass with fresh cool water. The man drank the water without pause and thanked me. Would you like more? No, that was perfect. Well, I’ll be on my way. Thanks again. You’re welcome.
I stood in the door and watched the man continue up the street. I never knew his name. It might have been Gabriel for all I know. He looked like an ordinary man. He had no feathery wings on his back. Maybe he was my angel, a temporary blessing.
I wonder about that man now and then. He let me be an angel; let me bring him a small glass of comfort, a simple drink of water on a hot day. When I turned to go back into my house, I felt better. I think that is what is known as joy. So between that man and I, we acted out comfort and joy.
This morning early as I swept my front patio, a whole family of angels rounded the corner. Mom and Dad, brother and sister and baby in the stroller. They wore Santa hats. In Mexico, all the angels are musicians. Dad played the Saxaphone and brother did an outstanding job on the drum. This angel family walked along the street, playing Christmas hymns, for the comfort and joy of all the people along the way.
Maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be. I’m no philosopher, no theologian. When I look around me, what I see is that we all want to be comfortable. I want comfort. Nothing wrong with that. But if I turn my usual idea of comfort around—set the noun comfort aside a minute and pick up the verb comfort, follow it into action, the result is joy. And I am the one who gets to feel the joy. It’s an inside job.
Me, I’m neither saint nor winged angel. But with all my heart I wish you tidings of comfort and joy, today and every day. Feliz Navidad.
HDN: Looking out my back door
December 24, 2014