It is Christmas Eve 2009.
Mellow air and warmth caresses this evening like a kind of balm. Christmas Eve has always had a sense of the unabashed Holy about it. Years ago I used to spend this night in a frenetic anxiousness and the crazed and over-extended ardour of The Director. I revelled in the Chaos of Christmas Eve and relished the crowds at Church, the heat and noise and blustering nerves in my belly as my theatrical homages to Divinity were splashed across the Worship/Premier Night stage.
I always spent Christmas Eve essentially alone even amidst the people. My children were my saving grace, giving me purpose and reason beyond the recognition of the Christ Child. I was a studious and well organised Christmas Eve Mum so as to ensure my babes were able to wallow in the magical wonder of Christmas morning surprises.
I was married back then but still effectively alone.
Tonight, I am also alone. I am observing the ever present beast named Loneliness, wending its way around my ankles like a black smog, slung low to the ground and threatening; but I am used to being alone on Christmas Eve, so it can never really harm me. I am used to being immersed in the silence of this night. Loneliness will eventually give way to contentment again but it can be a struggle sometimes even so.
It may well be that there is a rhythm to my character that defines Christmas Eve as a sort of sacrosanct hermitage of the soul... of my soul. It seems that each year at this time I do retreat into the centre of my inner world more and become more reflective and muted - less inclined to socialise or engage with others in grand gestures and party oriented persona's. Not that I really engage with others much these days anyway. The dynamics of my current lifestyle are not conducive to it.
There was a woman alone on the street today. She was stranded and surrounded by all her belongings in suitcases and bags, sitting on a box and sobbing for she has nowhere to go. She had apparently been thrown out by her partner from her home. My cynical suspicious nature wonders but well yes...she was...she is... effectively homeless. Her bruised and beaten soul screamed "Victim" at the top of its metaphysical lungs. Even the Salvo's had no place for her in the inn tonight.
Is she the Christ child come to earth in disguise to find those worthy of grace?
There is none before or since who can be worthy such a thing! And besides, it has already been given and it is sitting there waiting patiently for us to unwrap it like a child on Christmas morning. That's all. Christmas Eve is supposed to remind us of this Truth. More often than not, we just see what we want to see and never mind the rest.
So, Christmas Eve has a polish and a patina of its very own for me. It's a haven and a hell, a beautiful paradise of impeccable spiritual retreat as well as a kind of purgatory I must travel through towards genuine humanity - and elusive intimacy - again.
Tonight is THIS Christmas Eve. in 365 days I will have grown and been moved, and changed by the circumstances of life and will have most likely re-shaped my perceptions yet again. We will see!