As far as last weeks before Christmas go, this year’s must rank as one of the more unpleasant ones. Something seemed to have caught my by the hair and was flinging and yanking at me almost every day. My mood was all over the place. I could put in two good days of solid work and collapse for the next three. Struggling to keep Christ in our Christmas preparations, I didn’t feel my efforts had worked out well. I was heading to Christmas ragged and tired and there were heavy days ahead yet.
And then, my Christmas card project with the kids got held up and I found myself highly stressed, trying to get our cards done in time for the morning mail pick-up. Trying desperately not to forget God, I must have said the most distracted prayers. All around me wild gusts of grey~blue winds tore around the house and through the trees. Whenever I slowed down and allowed my gaze to fall upon the words the winds were writing on the tightly-fleeced skies, I had the feeling the angels were trying to get me to slow down and listen!
But I couldn’t. Despite paring down Christmas chores and tasks to the barest minimum, there was still so much to do and each one had to be done. I flitted from one end of the mood spectrum to the other. I was living this last week before Christmas in exactly the way I didn’t want to and there was nothing I could do to reverse it. I prayed tattered prayers for help and quiet.
And I felt each one of those prayers get lost in the wild, mad swirling of those tempestuous storm winds.
By nightfall, when everyone else must have been winding down, our household was in typical high gear. My husband had returned late from work and after dinner, was busily baking his Christmas specialities. The younger children were in a madness-induced state from sheer excitement of Christmas and from what else was going to come out of the kitchen.
It was then that I gathered them all to prepare their Christmas cards. I had kept it simple. The children went online and chose the images they wanted for their cards which we then set onto cards and printed out. Then they sat down and wrote their messages.
I didn’t bargain on the level of excitement even that would generate. There were squeals and awe over the pictures, and giggles and good-natured teasing. Youngest to the oldest fell about laughing over something or another. Someone forgot how to spell her name. One of the older ones wrote to his godmother asking her how her Christmas was going to be – when she was, in fact, going to be spending it with us. Another wrote to the Parish Priest, Since you pray for me, I will pray for you too – thank goodness for the good pastor’s sense of humour – he was going to need it!
Deep in drill commander mode, I was so anxious to have the cards done well and minimally smudged – that my children’s joy hovered at the periphery of my senses.
Slowly, slowly though, an Unseen hand turned my heart towards those bursts of light. Slowly, the demands of the task melted away. I began to get caught up in my children’s ebullience, their pure~silver laughter catching my own spirit up in a dance only children’s laughter has the power to create.
As I fell backwards into my children’s glee, a quiet silver began to pool its tendrils into my spirit, filling rough and hollow pockets with a fresh dew, spilling light into tired shadows. It had been a very long and tiring day, we had a house that had been cleaned and tidied from top to bottom and yet looked like it had been turned upside down.
But a deep languid peace continued its conquest of my heart, and fort after frazzled fort fell before its quiet, serene power as I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into my children’s joy.
That night, I prayed our Rosary with a difference. My heart found the words. Gone was the tetchy seeking for Heaven’s listening ear. Even when the gusts picked up outside, my heart rested in serenity.
Hours into a deep, contented sleep, I was suddenly awakened by the sharp light of a voice, Mama! It alerted me that the youngest needed some comforting. It sounded exactly like one of my children but even without turning over, I knew it was not that child, for the voice sliced cleanly through my sleep and yet it didn’t startle me.
Playing that voice over and over in my sleep, I recalled the strange prayer that had found my heart recently ~
Jesus, speak to me. Let me hear You.
I recalled the dream of the stone house and the reunion of loves. I went back even further, to the aged words of the priest that old day so long ago, when the skies sang but my heart was learning a sonnet of biting sorrow.
He will grow up, said the priest, but I had recoiled because I could not understand. Because I could not accept it.
Mama! A voice stilled for years upon years. Till today. Till I turned towards the angels’ Light and sank my heart into my children. I finally heard the voice I love with all my heart, and never once stopped loving nor seeking.
This sign given to me is an angel’s whisper. Telling me it is the beginning of the Miracle.