For unto us a child is born,
To us a son is given.
As Christmas approaches, amidst the chaos and cacophony, it is important to remember why we celebrate Christmas at all.
The birth of Jesus Christ.
Even for non-Christians, this time of year is a season of reflection and can be a difficult time for many of us who remember those we have loved and lost.
This is supposed to be a joyous time of year but for some it can be a painful struggle to navigate the noise and forced frivolity this time of year imposes upon us.
Victory Memorial Park Funeral Centre understands this journey implicitly and holds an annual Christmas Candlelight Service to offer words of support and solace for those who wish to gather to remember their loved ones.
As my friend was the pianist and soloist for this event, I attended to support him and to listen to some beautiful Christmas music.
I was pleasantly surprised as the “sermon” was non-religious and heartfelt with a meaningful message.
So with the permission of the speaker, Pastor Jeff Renaud of the North Langley Community Church, I am liberally quoting some of it here.
“We gather to remember our loved ones. We come to acknowledge loss.
In a world that promotes having it altogether – after all, most Facebook or Instagram posts are of people smiling, of successes, of happiness, we don’t talk enough about struggle.
So here we are, gathered unashamedly to be reminded that our loved ones have mattered – and matter – present tense, to us.”
Pastor Renaud then relayed a personal story which took place in Northern BC with his son where his ATV broke down in the middle of nowhere.
“To be honest, I don’t remember ever feeling such a sense of helplessness.
No one chooses to feel helpless, and yet as we gather here, we must admit that we feel helpless in the face of loss.
It may be a spouse. A parent. A child. A sibling, a grandparent, a friend.
For whoever it is, we miss them.
We miss what was, and we grieve what will not be.
And the common thread is that nagging helpless feeling.
And getting used to a new normal, whatever that new normal is.
So how do we move forward in the face of such helplessness?
There is tremendous hope for joy once again.
And that joy hinges on us being able to navigate how we view moving forward.
You see, part of the helpless perhaps is in the fact that we may not think life will be the same again.
The truth is, it won’t.
New experiences are being made. New relationships are being formed. New chapters in our story are being written.
But something new does not have to mean something less.
As in Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending ceramics.
It takes ceramics that have been broken, and puts them back together again using gold. This process actually highlights the imperfections and brings the object’s scars to life.
My hope for us this Christmas season and beyond is to understand that though we may feel helpless at ‘fixing’ our grief, that we can actually see it, not as a flaw to our new normal, but rather as a beauty in something new being created.
Blessings to you, the broken, this Christmas.”
Thank you Jeff for sharing your comforting words.
I felt peaceful upon returning home.
I then got a text from my elder daughter with an ultrasound photo of my unborn grandson.
For unto us a child is born.
April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.