I feel like I should be ashamed to admit this, but I just took down my Christmas tree this morning. I've never ever done that-- I do try to be very liturgically minded and wait until the Epiphany because that's when Christmas is really over. But I do not ever wait until almost February to move away from Christmas.
This year, though, I just couldn't bring myself to take it down. (Though I did take down the outside decorations so I wouldn't be that crazy lady that the whole neighborhood gossips about.) But my tree and inside decorations were my last vestage of a little un-ordinary time magic. The weather was so warm that it never really felt like Christmas (I still haven't even unboxed my sweaters, and the flannel sheets that I tried for a week were back in their box a week later.) And besides, there is something a little lonely about living in the country at Christmastime. The only Christmas lights I saw were ones I paid money to see, and I guess that made me a little sad, because it felt like we were the only ones who noticed that it was special time.
But now it's really back to the ordinary time that occupies so much of our calendars. It's a strange time of waiting because the snowflakes that I usually use to decorate during January feel completely inappropriate. But it doesn't feel quite right to adorn my house with spring flowers yet either. It's waiting, in-between, sort of time. Made holy and special and delightful not by the events on the calendar or the confounding weather, but by the little everyday delights like being able to open the windows and bask in the gentle sunshine. Ordinary yes, but also filled with great potential for the extraordinary.
"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.