by Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor
FBC, Oxford, Miss.
For years, I have loved re-reading Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” during this time of the year. It opens with a line so evocative of my own memories of Christmas:
“One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”
As adults, we spend a great deal of energy trying solve the puzzle of our longing for the past, trying to recapture wholly those experiences that return to us only as a fleeting glimpse or a whisper just between our waking and sleeping. For me, these moments of “homesickness” are never more acute than at Christmas. I believe the reason for this is that these memories are uniquely imbued with the reality of my ultimate home, heaven. Christmas in a Christian home weaves the best of life (faith, hope, and love) around the deep reality of the gospel: God in Christ for us.
Thomas closes his poem with these words:
“Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”
It is the desire to connect to “the close and holy darkness” to which our lives are drawn, around which our memories orbit, that guides us to the solution of the puzzle of our past. The only way home is not backward, but forward, is not in the futile attempts to recreate what has disappeared, but in the faithful decision to believe and to share with others that the best is yet to come, that there is a Father, a Brother, a family, a feast, and a home prepared for us.