Many of us traveled home for the holidays.
Now that we’re collectively back in our little comfort zones, taking our familiar walks and stirring our morning coffee, the unknowns of 2024 have harbored some odd, niggling thoughts from the old year.
If you traveled home – whether in real time or in your
heart’s memory, there is much to ponder.
“Home” is a siren song, a magnetic pull to a place that
launched us out; gave us life skills; anchored our hearts and tethered our
To come home, looks different for each of us – yet there is a blending of shared experiences.
To come home is to find a place at the table
Skeptics and believers.
Scholars and shepherds
Ragamuffins and the
The misunderstood, the
The frightened and the furious
The jaded and the curious
Those displaced by divorce or
divided by death
The addicted and ashamed
The wounded and the healing
Those stuck inside the
And there in the distance beyond the Not-Knowing, await the
shadowy mysteries of a New Year.
Just how do we embrace this yo-yo mix of
How, I wonder, do we reconcile the co-existing of joy and
sorrow? The lingering light and the shadowy darkness?
I say, let’s embrace it all.
All of it.
A new year is a mingling, a sweet and salty flavor of …
Light and darkness
Warmth and chill
Pleasant and bitter
Calm and chaos
Anger and forgiveness
Anticipatory and … stuck.
Why not cling tightly to it all, in one fierce group hug?
The celebrations and the mourning.
After all, grace comes in when we let our expectations go.
We all carry a story of grief-changing-everything.
My story, though now (thankfully) restored, holds sacred
space for a time when the kids didn’t want to come home.
And they didn’t.
It was Christmas. The first Christmas after that Shattering
August Day when their dad died.
Before Time heals, Grief
intensifies: my daughters barely recognized me as a solo parent. I was still
Mom, but I was Mom Without Dad.
It must have been just too
weird for them. They’d lost their dad and they’d also lost half of me.
For the girls, to be absent
from the holiday table, was not so much that they were rebellious. It was a lot
more like they were navigating their way through pain. Each of their paths was
different and each of their journeys pulled them further and further from me –
a desperate flight from the sense of family we all so keenly needed.
It wasn’t just one bereft
season – the longer we were at an impasse, the wider and deeper and more
painful the gap became.
It would be years before we
would find ourselves around a common table again.
There was likely that secret
promise hard-wired within my children: “Mom will always be there for us. We can
return home when we are ready.”
And they did. Eventually, they
Though reconfigured with an
empty chair and a heartful of memories, we are a family again.
Maybe this brokenness, this
disconnect, this empty chair – will always be with us. Not prominently, not
painfully, but quietly woven into the joy as a reminder that we are made for
more than this.
In your own flight from others
who still need you, please pause.
In your haste to get past the
hurt, look up.
Those people at the office?
Your friend tribe? Your stand-in-the-gap families?
Let them center you.
Allow the holy hush of a quiet evening to encircle you.
Sit leaning slightly forward into mercy.
Embrace the chaos.
Let go of the expectations.
After all, grace comes in when we let our
In the grit and the dirt of
living, we have hope.
We have fresh, earth-covering
We have …
power of forgiveness.
Do you have an empty chair and a heartful of memories?
Sit quietly with that discord, giving it too, a place of honor.
Are you sorting through the friction,
the disagreements inside your own family?
I invite you to lean in
and be astonished when a melody emerges.
You will sing new songs; some
will be a little off key.
Your heart can hold it all.