Once upon a time, when I had a normal job, it was my Christmas Eve tradition to clean my office. I would go through everything – all the random piles of paper, things on the pin up board, through the drawers and throw away piles of stuff. I would end up with a massive box of paper, old pens and other office detritus that had built up over the year. It was quite cathartic and symbolic – I would go through everything and review what was important and what wasn’t and usually throw away most things that at some point I had deemed important. I would then get to come back in the new year with a clean desk and a clean slate to start again.
This year when we arrived back to Mozmbique I had a plan to blog every week. I stuck to it – sometimes I even managed to wack a video up on a Friday. It was a way for me to review and reflect of what had happened in the past week and move on in to the next week with a metaphorical clean desk. In the past month or so this hasn’t happened. It has been so intense here that I haven’t had time to/avoided reviewing and reflecting on what has been happening. So here I am 4 days out from Christmas with my heart and mind full of stuff that needs to be worked on. There’s piles of stuff on my metaphorical desk that needs thinking about and to be done in the next little while, there’s a whole lot of rubbish that just needs to be chucked out, and deep in the draws a lot of death that still hasn’t been grieved properly.
I can deal with a lot of the stuff on top of the desk – I just need to get a bit organised and sort it out. I can do that. I can probably work on throwing away some of the broken bits with a bit of time off over Christmas holidays and reflection – the hard bit is making them not come back. It the deep hurting stuff which is tough. We’ve seen so much death here in the last 8 months – of super close friends to people we know in the village… we’ve seen perplexing suffering – sometimes where people are powerless and sometimes where people watch it happen even though they have the means to intervene…
So we watch people here as they try and cope with the deep pain that results from living in this society and wonder how they do it. It seems often they rely on ritual to compartmentalise grief – they have to… When you are a subsistence farmer, who is going to give you 2 weeks of compassionate leave with pay to grieve? The truth is, I’m not sure they do cope. They sink into the lostness but just need to get on with things to survive.
So at Christmas I find hope. Jesus came into our world and experienced all the crap. He was born into poverty and experienced being a refugee. He knew hard work as a carpenter. He spent time being homeless. He knew the pain of seeing people he loved die. He experienced the frustration of living and working with people! He knew injustice. He felt the pain of death and separation from God.
So at Christmas, when I’m tired and still have a metaphorical desk that needs cleaning I can rest knowing that my Saviour knows how I’m feeling and he says “come and rest”. I want my mates here to know that too – That there’s a bigger story found in Jesus. One that gives foundation to life and speaks of a savior who’s ready to walk through the ridiculous amount of crap that life throws at you here.