Soft Hearts, Open Hands

It was the most remarkable Christmas miracle that transpired the other day in the Parent Room. Before my very eyes, a stand-off that had begun over an unfortunate misunderstanding, suddenly righted itself.  Without preamble,  a former political adversary suddenly and inexplicably proffered an olive branch. And I snapped it up before she could change her mind.

Now, I’d like to be able to say that this was an answer to prayer. But that wouldn’t be true, exactly. Typical Heidi fashion, once this individual ticked me off, I pretty much just carried on as if she didn’t exist. We both assumed the air of the injured party, and avoided one another. Four months later … she decided to let bygones be bygones.

It was a beautiful thing. Even though a small part of me kinda wished I’d thought of it first.

How often do we find ourselves hardened in opposition over an issue in the clear light of day is more complex than we allow ourselves to consider? In our rigidity, do we miss whispers of grace that are all around us, calling us to embrace a life of healing and reconciliation?

Imagine, if you will, what would have happened if Elizabeth had caught wind of her unwed teenage cousin’s pregnancy and barred her from her home, in moral outrage? “How dare she show up here, and ruin my joy! How selfish can she be!?”

Instead, the mature Elizabeth listened to those whispers of grace, and allowed her heart to fill not with judgment or contempt, but with love. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…”

So often in life, we are given the same choice:  To respond with anger and judgment, or to extend ourselves in love. To the thoughtless teenager. The arrogant in-law. The nagging, the ignorant, and the selfish. The hurtful, the prickly, and the private. The wounded and the weak.

This holy season, as we make room in our hearts to welcome the Christ Child . . . can we find a place for his brothers and sisters as well?

Happy last week of Advent!

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