Night was falling; the trees spoke to one another, their voices rising with each rustling leaf. The crickets tuned their wings and played their songs as a handful of crows flew noisily overhead, calling out the directions home, already late, and in a hurry. I laid down on the grass as God slowly covered the world with darkness. The frogs, living in secret places near the hedge, added their bass notes to the sounds of the night.
“You’re a composer,” I said to God. I closed my eyes and listened. I heard the beating of His heart, the breath escaping His lips, the sound of His love reverberating through all of creation.
“Thank you,” I said, and applauded the performance. The fog spilled over the hillside—cold and damp— and so I rose to go— but taking with me the knowledge that I am part of it all—my soul a chord in His great symphony.
The sun pushed its way into the morning and sauntered over to my garden. “Are you here to grow my flowers?” I asked— the marigolds leaning their pretty heads towards its warmth. I smiled at the thought of God’s creation—the pieces all fitting together in the service of life. A bee buzzed by on his single-minded task of visiting each blossom. I sat down on the cool, damp earth, and watched God at work, orchestrating an entire universe in my little flower patch.
“It’s all love,” God whispered through the tall foxgloves, His breath waving them to and fro.
“I know,” I said, “because you are love.”
The sun playfully kissed the flowers, sending their sweet sighs out into the air. I sat for a long time, wanting nothing more than to be with God in my garden.
The stars hung haphazardly in the night sky. I sat on the deck, alone in the dark, and pondered their disarray. They looked as chaotic as life now feels here on earth.
“There is no order to anything anymore. Even your stars are messy,” I said to God.
“You don’t see the order in the stars?” God asked. An owl called out from the woods that lead to the pond.
“No. None at all. Look how out of alignment they are, ” I replied. Off on the southern ridgeline, a coyote howled to the rising moon, its voice echoing down the canyon.
“My sweet child, everything in my creation is in perfect order,” God answered. “Things only seem to be out of order because you are looking with your eyes, not with your heart.”
The owl called out again. I closed my eyes and listened. I heard the wind pass tenderly through the trees. The stream at the foot of the hill splashed happily on its way. The cries of the coyote, fainter now, but still discernable, found their way to me. My heart knew that the night, and all it contained, was in God’s perfect hands. So too, was the chaos of the stars. So too, the chaos of this life.
I raised my face to the sky and looked with my heart. All I could see was God’s glorious mystery, shining through billions of twinkling stars, waving down to me.
The moon had yet to rise above the horizon. My eyes strained to see as darkness enveloped the garden. “Be with me here in the darkness, God,” I prayed.
A lone bird, off in the distance, sang her last song to the day. I looked upward and saw the first star. I felt the cool cheek of evening rest against my own. “When you are here, I am not afraid, for you are the light of the world,” I prayed.
“I’m here,” God whispered through the branches of the oak tree. “I’m here,” He sighed through the damp earth beneath my feet. “I am here,” He murmured, with every beat of my heart.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers…
The sun dipped below the horizon, waving goodbye to the day. The sky looked as if God had broken open a pumpkin with His gentle hands and poured out all of the colors inside. How beautiful it was! I sat on the wooden bench under the pear tree and admired the sunset as the night slowly erased the orange and ochre tones.
“Thank you, God, for my eyes that see your beauty. Thank you, for my heart that feels your love. I am humbly grateful.” I whispered as the dark reached out her cold fingers across the meadow. I buttoned my coat and tied my scarf tighter.
“You’re welcome. Here, let me keep you warm,” God said and put His arm around me. “Shall I walk you back to the cottage?”
“I don’t want to go in just yet,” I said. “I want to stay here with you a little longer.”
“I’ll light your way when you are ready,” He replied and lifted the full moon into the dark sky. Its soft lantern of light cast a glow across the meadow. I sat there for quite some time, enjoying everything about my life. Enjoying everything about God.
When the stars began to shine, I rose and began my way back to the cottage to build a fire to warm my body as I slept, trusting that God would keep heart and soul warm.
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Every holiday season as a child I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a tradition. But it wasn’t until I was older that I saw the most important message in the movie. Linus took to the stage and told the story of the shepherds abiding in the field, watching their flocks by night. Here’s where the movie gets profound. When Linus quoted, “But the angel of the Lord said unto them, ‘Fear not’” he dropped his security blanket before he continued the story— “for I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
For Linus, it was a blanket. For you and I, perhaps it is our looks, our careers, our bank accounts, our fancy cars, clothes, and houses, or even our addictions, that we cling to for security. But we should drop all of those things and cling to God instead. We have nothing to fear because God loves us so very much that He sent His Son to walk among us and teach us about the greatest lesson we will ever learn: to love.
As we enter into this season of celebrating Christ’s birth, let us drop the things we hide behind. Let us drop our fears, especially our fear of one another, and embrace the message Christ shared with us. Let us dismantle all the barriers we’ve created to love and take to heart the glorious words of the angel, “Fear not,” for God is with us.