Welcoming the gift

In Australia bushfires are raging in parched, rain-deprived areas, in exhaustingly relentless heat. Here, though, the weather has been very different. Yesterday we had a very welcome respite from this winter's incessant, unrelenting rain, and the concomitant leaden skies. For a couple of days at least, we have a wintry sun shining on our roads, drying them somewhat, though fields remain sodden. Most of this year has been relatively - and surprisingly - dry, but the past two months have been predominantly wet, with heavy floods in some areas, and a general grey sogginess everywhere else. It feels as though we're receiving the whole year's normal rainfall as a somewhat unwelcome early Christmas gift; as though all the year's rain had gathered, its level rising, eventually welling up, overflowing uncontrollably in a sudden, drenching spate.

The other day I read a prayer in a parish newsletter - written by Kieran O'Brien for CAFOD, it began

The heavens can no longer hold your abundant love,
So you pour out the gift of your embodied self
Relinquishing the beauty of your majesty,
To adorn the pale colours of our humanity...

Just like the rain, which the skies can no longer hold in... God's love is uncontainable, overflowing, poured out through God's everlasting gift of the Word made flesh - poured out, over us, through a gift which literally keeps on giving.

Tomorrow we'll be unwrapping our Christmas gifts. We might receive them with gratitude or joy; or we might have to feign this, having hoped for something else. We welcome rain after a long, dry spell - until it becomes too much for us. So too with God's love: we can long to know it, but then it can feel too much, too intense; its consequences too challenging, too disturbing of our comfort zones. So I'll leave you with the little video in this tweet. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all be as delighted as this little girl with all God's gifts, no matter how small or ordinary, unwelcome or unexpected...?

Happy and blessed Christmas everyone - may you delight in and relish all your gifts, especially the One poured out from heaven, the loveliest gift of all...


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