During the weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year, I often find myself reminiscing over holiday seasons gone by with all of their pleasures and pains. I wonder how many of us do this. I know my siblings do at least, as we exchanged may childhood memories in our group text last week. My sister Kristin wrote: “Remember Mom always putting pistachios in Joe’s stockings, and then there was Sandi playing Christmas carols on the piano, and Lori wrapping gifts the prettiest before anyone else was?” And then my brother chimed in: “She put red Twizzlers in my stocking as well.” I added, “Remember those candy toys on the coffee table we’d come down to on Christmas morning?” We shared sadder memories too: Our parents’ last Christmases when they were ill and way too young to be dying. We kids not knowing how to comfort them. And in between their deaths the coming of the blended family with all of its misunderstandings and hurts. I try not to dwell on the sadder memories, but they do creep in.
Much of my journey in ministry has been to find solace, context, and meaning in the ups and downs of life—not just for myself, but for everyone in my circles. Henri Nouwen, in his book The Wounded Healer, writes of a fundamental “woundedness” in human nature, but that woundedness can become a source of strength and healing in our interactions with others. We know that Christ is the ultimate wounded healer, the One who shows us that resurrection is the pattern of the universe: that all truly becomes well even out of abject suffering.
In our intentional reflecting and reminiscing this holiday week, we can all trace patterns of resurrection in the here and now. We can count our blessings each day and feel gratitude for all our good relationships, our comforts of home, our problems that do get solved, and even for the experiences that come out of our choices, both good and bad. All the while God strengthens our souls. Because we are a people of faith, we know that what isn’t resurrected in this life will indeed rise in the life to come. May this thought give us much hope, peace, and joy in the New Year.