Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Ask Thee to Stay

"The Tree" when it came to live with us in 2004
The fall days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder.  The trees are dropping their leaves, and I have a burning need to cook apples, and pumpkins, and cranberries.  At this time of year, my soundtrack is Christmas music.  I know Christmas is still a long way off, but I just love the old familiar songs so much, that I always jump the gun and begin playing them early.  I love almost all of it.  I love the sacred hymns, and the silly secular stuff.  I'm very partial to Bing Crosby and Amy Grant.  With a little bit of Elvis and Dolly.

When I was a little girl, we had a small silver Christmas tree.  We slid the silver "branches" out of paper sleeves, and stuck them into holes in what amounted to a broomstick painted silver.  Then we hung shiny colored balls on it, and we were done.  We didn't even have the creaking color wheel.  It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen.  I used to lay on the couch in early December and ponder its beauty, and vow to myself, that I would stay on that couch, in that very spot, until Christmas morning.

My parents would put a stack of Christmas albums on the record player, and I would lay there squinting my eyes to blur the colors of the shining tree, and listening to the words of the songs.  I loved them all.  I couldn't choose a favorite.  They all evoked emotion that I associated with different facets of the holidays.  They still do.

The other day I found myself humming a song that has been relegated to the children.  I loved that song as  child.  It poured itself into my heart and comforted me.  

"I love Thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle 'til morning is nigh."

It spoke to me, a small child, laying on a scratchy couch, under a granny square afghan, that Jesus could see me, see that I loved Him, and stand watch over me through the night.  Because I was a child.  Because I was small, and vulnerable.

"Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me I pray."

The little child in their cradle, looking up at Jesus, who is keeping watch.  A stroke of brilliance.  Be near me always.  I don't know it yet, but every bed will feel like a cradle, and I will always  be small and vulnerable.

Years will come and go, and I will still wrap myself in an afghan in the quiet house, and squint my eyes, and see that the ragged tree is beautiful.  I will still lean into the season of "fear not" and "great joy".  

I will still sit on the edges of the grownup conversations and feel uncertain, and worried that someone will ask me a question.  I will see someone beautiful, and I will want to touch them, but I will tuck my hands behind my back instead.  

I will laugh and be silly, and feel as though the world is filled to the brim with funny things.  I will weep, and believe that my tears will have no end.  

I will look into a mirror and expect to see my own childish image, and instead there will be a woman with lines on her face and snow in her hair.  She knows it now, but sometimes she forgets, that every bed will feel like a cradle, and I will always be small and vulnerable.