Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nine - To Bethlehem and Back By Squinting!

I found this amazing picture on the web.  Isn't it cool!  As we take another step closer to Christmas Day, I had to share this with you.  It's just beautiful and in a way, it goes along with the next part of the story leading us to the day of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

At some point, when I was little, I made a regular practice of scooting myself under the tree, once it was completely decorated and just gazing up through the branches.  I would lay there for awhile, just starring into the never ending array of lights and favorite ornaments that were dangling from the branches.  After soaking it all in for a few moments, I would then squint and get a whole new light show.  The multi-colored lights magically turned into sparkling colored gems.  It was wonderful!  If you promise not to tell my husband, I will share a little secret with you.  I still do this, it's just a little more cumbersome getting up and down from under the tree, and that is why I wait to do it when no one is around.

Children are fascinated with the bright colors, the ornaments and the magic of it all when you stand back and just admire your work for the first time.  My children were no exception and the visit under the tree is something that I shared with both of them.  My daughter still does it, my son, not so much.  Apparently, this sojourn is not as cool if you're almost 20 and a young man as it is for us girls.  For her, this tradition got quadrupled at her house this year.  She put up 4 trees.  She would put of a dozen more, but I don't think my son-in-law would be near as appreciative of the trees and lights as she is.

If you have not ever tried this, no matter how hold you are, wait til no one is around and just plop yourself on the floor, scoot up under your tree, gaze up and just enjoy the beauty.  I promise I won't tell!  Our little wonder dog even likes to do this.  He loves to be under the tree, and only when the lights are on.  It must offer a sense of warmth and security.

Let's take a quick break now.  Please go check out your own tree and hurry back.  There's more to come.

Tick tock tick tock.  Oh, good you're back.  What did you think?  Isn't a wonderful treat to be able to see the beauty on the inside of your tree?  Good!

Inside your tree, whether it's natural or artificial, is a framework, a tree trunk (or support pole) with just dozens of branches and offshoots to make the tree full and shapely.  Hmm, do you see an analogy coming?  If you don't, you should.  As a child of God, He has provided each of us with our own "tree trunk" complete with branches and twigs and a beautiful inside, just like that Christmas tree that stands in the corner in our house.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all learn to look at other people from the inside out, learn to look for their beautiful insides before we take time to either admire what's on the surface or be critical of it's outward appearance?  Unfortunately, as imperfect mortal beings, we have a tendency to do it in reverse and only look at someone's heart and soul, after we have approved or disapproved the exterior.  I'm as guilty as the next one when it comes to that and that doesn't make me happy.  But enough of the negative.  It's Christmas, and we should all be glowing just like the trees in the picture above.

Speaking of that picture, look at it again.  Did anything jump out and grab you when you looked at it?  "Do you see what I see"?  I'm not going to tell you what it is.  I want you to look at it some more.

Okay, okay, for those of you that see it, awesome, for those of you that don't, here's a hint!  Squint!  The beauty of the colored lights somehow seem to blend in with the stars in the sky and it is almost like those wonderful trees are reaching up and guiding our eyes to Heaven, and that is where all of  this began!

The one thing that is really cool to me is that God has given us the ability to look beyond, to find him in even the simplest and most earthly of things.  Just like laying on the floor and looking up through the lights and branches of my Christmas tree.  I lay on my back under that tree and squint my eyes and I see a world of wonder, I see stars, angels, mystery, magic and wonder.  My imagination can take me to a place in a distant land a long time ago.  At second glance, I see one of the ornaments that is a nativity scene, shepherds, kings, angels and more and I begin to think.  Through the wonder of these lights, the beauty of the tree, I've started a journey that takes me away from the hustle bustle craziness of the commercialized part of Christmas to what it is really about.

What started as a long, weary journey to pay taxes took a very pregnant young woman and her husband into the cold, damp surroundings of a carved out stable to shelter the animals.  "Do you see what I see?"  A young woman, in labor, afraid, in pain, cold, weary, a baby born and wrapped in scraps of cloth to keep him warm, the Light and Salvation of the world come to earth as a tiny baby.  His cries, His needs no different than any other child.  His promise, to be our Savior.  Shepherds came, Kings followed a star, Angels sang, animals and  human kind as well, all bowed to this tiny little baby and honored Him as their King.

My knees are creaking and my face has a little glitter on it as I bump the bottom branches and scoot back out to my "real" world, but I'm smiling.  I feel good inside and out, as a matter of fact, I feel wonderful.  I've just been to Bethlehem and back in a matter of moments.  It's amazing just how good you can feel when you take yourself away from the craziness that we've made in our world and take just a moment, just a short beautiful moment to drift away, almost close your eyes and take a journey back to the beginning.

Try it!  I hope it brings you the same peace that it brings me!  Merry Christmas, nine days to go.  Take a journey and smile!

Peace and blessings to you and yours this Christmas and as always, In Him!