I woke up this Christmas in the Hunter's Blind. Despite her access to an overabundance of the world's resources, my mother bought this bedding for the room that was once mine.
It is hideous. Which is a fact.
And it is an example of my mother doing her best to take care of me, which is what mothers tend to do. Once we're too big to pick up by the back of our scruff, or put down in a laundry basket or manger for a minute, shit gets too complicated and our expressions of love colored by unintended consequences of our behaviors, the stars, and reactivity.
My meditation this morning was at someone else's altar. Wood, grown and carved in Africa, the deities faceless yet iconic in context. Donkeys. Sheep. Primitive doulas. Peaceful bovids gathered protectively around the place where god sleeps.
As a child, my attention would always float to the angel, whose presence was the only thing that let you know that this birth was different. I was also concerned that the sticky tack holding her to the lean-to was going to drop her right into the face of god, so there was that.
(Worry is my own mother's flavor of love, and so I suppose that's fitting, too.)
This morning my eyes rested on Joseph, the unsung hero of the virgin birth. The neo-feminist in me has always appreciated the sacrifice, the devotion, the efforts of Mary, whose body was hijacked and used as a vessel. I'd love to hear her reports of the story of this immaculate conception, but unfortunately hers was not a speaking role.
But Joseph? He showed up. The faceless man in front of me still went to Bethlehem, bent over another man's child, and stepped in. Eventually shared his gifts of carpentry, craft as a good way of expressing love. To show up - share your gifts - and wait for the Wise Men to come and give you some tips on your next move.
Its fitting, if you ask me, that neither of these parents were given lines. Because love of any sort is not taught through words, but by example. By bizarre and mysterious action, repetition, faith.
My mother loves me through worry, through horrible taste in bedding, through kicking my ass at Scrabble and never letting me win.
*Be tough, my darling. The world has scared me. Don't get lost in the details, stay warm, and strengthen your mind, which will be your saving grace.*
My father loves me by letting me rest while watching football, by criticizing my taste in podcasts, by teaching me how to worry with intention and direction, usually about money or politics.
*I see your mother's tendencies in you, so let's use them for the good of the world and not waste your time on frivolity. You're a child of god, and your work is important.*
My lesson this Christmas is to be grateful for love in all forms. Worry. Faith. Courageous action.
What is yours?