I took a ride on the Blue Christmas Bus this past Sunday. This is closely related to the Struggle Bus if you are wondering, but specifically about feeling down during the holiday season. It started before I even left the house with news that a church member had succumbed to complications from the corona-virus. Then I soon found myself standing in empty children’s Sunday School classrooms missing the donut-fueled sugar rush excitement. Not long after that, I was in a sparsely filled sanctuary for another worship service with people I would like to hug but cannot. I was especially feeling the burden of responsibility to my “flock” as I want to keep them safe while also offering them the comfort of gathering together while socially distanced.
After church I drove by the literally boarded up East Towne Mall. I never thought I would miss the massive crowds and hustle and bustle this time of year, but I do. I also saw the ghostly closed Toys R Us where I had purchased many gifts for my children in Christmas’ past. This year we will likely not be able to get together like we want.
In the afternoon, my parents along with my sister and I met at the gravesite of my brother who died on this date 43 years before. We kept our distance from one another on an occasion that begged for embracing. After a tearful prayer, we then exchanged Christmas presents since we have decided it would be wisest not to have our annual Bonus Christmas get-together as I like to call it.
On my way home, I drove by my childhood home in East Knoxville while listening to Karen Carpenter. Her beautiful, yet haunting voice was perfect for my frame of mind. This was the last home we lived in before my brother got sick. As my father once said, it was our last “safe place” before leukemia upended our lives.
At one point I told my wife that I had been feeling “hunched” all day long. Somehow she knew what I meant without my fully putting it into words. She remarked that it was unusual for me to even say anything because I usually just silently wallow in my misery until I emerge on the other side of it.
Here is the point where I suppose I should tell you how my faith got me through. Or that prayer uplifted me when I was feeling down. The truth is I concluded my evening with hot cereal and chocolate milk and my favorite Christmas movie: Die Hard. I made fists with my toes and felt a little better. I am sorry if you wanted a more pat answer, but why perpetuate a false notion of Jesus as some kind of genie to always make us feel better whenever we wish? I will say I do still have a pervading assurance this will pass and I know that Jesus is the source of that hope. I know I will get off this bus, but I may pass several stops before I do.
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