Friday, December 23, 2011

The Lonely Swing

When we bought our old farm house we found a swing already hanging from a branch of an apple tree. It was just a piece of rope with a board fashioned for the seat but it was a well worn seat from the many times it had been used in the past. I can see this particular apple tree and the swing from my kitchen window and while we don't have any young children who would enjoy using the swing, I didn't want it taken down. I like the look of it and what it represents.

I like knowing that families once lived here; that children ran and played in the field and enjoyed hopping on that swing and trying to touch the other branches of the tree with their toes as they went higher and higher. I like knowing that someday I'll have grandchildren to enjoy the swing once again but until then the swing and I wait. Sometimes a breeze will catch the swing and it will sway gently back and forth and if a swing could have actual feelings I'm sure, at times like that, it would be remembering the happiness it brought to many children in the past.

We had our first snowfall of the year last week. As I was standing at my kitchen sink doing up the dishes, I looked out and saw the swing covered in snow. The board seat was slightly crooked, as if someone had just jumped off it in a hurry to be some place else, but the snow covering belied that the swing had been used for quite a long time. It struck me then that the swing looked lonely and I was reminded of how lonely people can be at Christmas time.

Just like the lonely swing was outside of our house, alone and forgotten, with us all inside, nice and toasty warm, enjoying each other's company, so too are there many people who feel like they are on the outside looking in, at Christmas time. Christmas is not a happy time for some people. Some have experienced the loss of a loved one during the year and Christmas is just a reminder of that loss. Some families are flung far apart by geography and can't be together during Christmas celebrations. Some are just flung apart emotionally and can't come together.

Whatever the reason for loneliness it doesn't change the fact that the Hallmark card version of what Christmas should be isn't always the real picture people face. It isn't always loved ones gathered around the fireplace with the Christmas tree twinkling its lights in the background. It isn't always grand gatherings of friends at each others homes with singing and laughter. To many people Christmas is quiet and can be lonely. It is to those people I write this.

Let me encourage you to truly focus on what Christmas was meant to be in the beginning, not what Hollywood and Hallmark have made it into. Remember the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary when she was alone. She didn't have anyone else with her to witness this great thing in her life. Remember that when Jesus was born, it was just Mary, Joseph and the Baby at first. No fan fare, no Christmas tree, no lights, no presents, no gumdrop cake or eggnog. That isn't what makes Christmas. Knowing the Saviour does. Remembering that Christmas is all about Jesus might just help you remember that He is with us always (Matthew 28:20) and that you are never alone.

Yes, the shepherds came and visited the family, and yes, some time later the wise men came and gave presents but Christmas all started when an angel appeared to a young girl and told her that God had a plan for her life. He has a plan for yours too. Mary trusted the Lord and agreed to what the Lord asked her to do (Luke 1:38). If you haven't done so already, let me encourage you to be trusting like Mary and turn your life over to Jesus today. You will never be alone again.

Post a Comment