His voice cracks along with the words, like the holes in his heart are too wide to be contained vocally. Too shattered with the devastation of what he expected life should be or could have been and will never be. He confesses this bravely out loud, like a soldier weary of war, and her heart cracks too as she hears the break in his voice. And she desperately speaks truth, longing to make him whole, but fears the words just curl up in the fetal position at his feet and refuse to budge. Refuse to help. Refuse to sink in to the deep voids and fill.
And her heart breaks too, because she knows she can't fix it. Can't fix him. Can't fix the past or alter the present or bring life into the future. She's powerless to save although the depths of her soul longs to do just that.
The child's panicked voice pierces even over the steady hum of the hairdryer, and the warm contraption is dropped on the counter. "What? What's wrong?"
And tears are streaming down the cherub's face and her nose is red and her eyes are puffy and she can't speak, just grabs for mama's hand. "Come see. Come see."
And she follows, heart in throat. "What is it? You have to tell me." Then a brief silence as resignation and mama-instincts merge into one. "Did something break?" She doesn't have to ask, she already knows, and the obvious is confirmed by the nodding mass of dirty blonde curls.
"Look." The child's finger, shaky and tipped with chipped berry nail polish, points to the Peanuts nativity scene on the nook. And the tears drip fresh and Linus, the Shepherd boy, blanket in tow, has been decapitated. His head lies at the feet of baby Jesus wrapped in the swaddling clothes, still smiling, even though he's completely upside down and out of place.
And like the head, the child's heart breaks too, because she knows she can't fix it. Can't fix him. Can't fix the past or alter the present or bring life into the future. She's powerless to save although the depths of her soul longs to do just that.
She didn't remember the head had broken off years ago, and every season since, her mom had just propped the head atop the body, half resting against the side of the stable.
"It's okay, baby. It was already broken."
And the tears dry and the sobs slow to a whimper of relief.
And the mama's heart goes back to her friend. "I'm broken." And she weeps because she knows and she feels it and sees the answer in an equally broken Nativity. If he, too, could just rest his head at Jesus's feet, he'd be made whole. If he could lean the weight of his weary body against the side of the manger this season, he'd find life. Find purpose. Find intent.
This season is hard. It's dark and cold and it's waiting for joy and waiting for peace. There's more tear-stained pillows than yuletide bliss. There's more spiritual warfare than Christmas magic. There's more blood-streaked armor than crystal-white snow.
But this Christmas is perhaps the one that most relates back to the first. For the holding breath of the Chosen ones awaiting their Saviour. For the brutal murder of innocence and expectations. For the heart plucking hope from a hay-strewn manger.
For the broken longing to be made whole.
Because we're all, down deep, already broken.
So let the tears dry and the sobs slow to a whimper of relief as you come and rest at His feet.
Emmanuel. God IS with us.