Kate took it off her head and handed it to me last Friday evening. It was the day after Thanksgiving and a night of interrupted sleep. Not a good Friday, when you spend a chunk of it at the doctor’s office, getting help for strep throat and an ear that throbs. Still, she took off the crown she’d worn the better part of two days and gave it to me. “Here, Momo, you should have this.” Reluctantly, I bent down so Kate could transfer her treasure to me. It came more heart to heart than head to head.
Sitting at the dining room table tonight, “doing Advent” reminded me to go get Kate’s crown. It’s been almost a week since I wore it. If anyone comes to the door and sees me in a pink paper crown sprinkled with sparkles, they’ll think I’ve lost more than muscle tone.
Today I struggled, stumbled through a talk to a MOPS group and felt fear nibbling at the edges of who I think I am and whatever purpose remains for my life, until I “did Advent.” Lighting candles, reading Scripture, singing carols by myself, why bother without Jud? Simply because, ritual matters. Some days it holds me together, becoming both form and substance. The watching and waiting during this season of Advent helps slow the frantic pulse of December.
Tonight, the guide’s suggested carol was “The First Noel.” I sang it and heard a pink paper crown with sparkles. Why? HOPE hidden in the story of the ragamuffin folks God invited to be the first to sign the visitor’s page in the baby book. Shepherds! Sheepherders, watching and tending, doing those rituals that hold life together until suddenly, despite their struggles and stumbles, their filth and failures, God picks them. God sends an angel choir to deliver the birth announcement. It must’ve spooked the sheep. We know from the story that the shepherds were terrified until they heard, “FEAR NOT. I’ve got Good news. You’ve got a Savior.” And off they went to Bethlehem. A band of smelly low lifes, bending low, breathing on the one who breathed Life into them. Rough, dirty hands reaching to touch the Lamb of God who never stops reaching for us.
Part of me never can figure this out and most of me hopes I never do. This God of shepherds and seraphim, of queens with diamond tiaras and a Momo in a pink paper crown, all dearly loved. The story of these outcasts, so warmly welcomed by the One who knows all, nudges me, bound by struggles and fears, to stumble on towards Bethlehem. Daring me to believe and trust, to hear again, “Fear not.”
Perhaps that’s the reason I retrieved Kate’s crown tonight. How I feel about myself is irrelevant to the truth that I am a child of God. And just maybe that’s why God nudged Kate to share something she loved with someone she loved even more. Some of us learn better with visual aids, this time it took “doing Advent” and a pink paper crown sprinkled with hope.
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