Somehow the memory had been submerged for all these years, deeply embedded when suddenly it came to the front of my mind today! The reason seemed to be this: I follow an Advent calendar each year at Christmas with a ritual of symbols. My ritual this year is not the traditional one I usually follow. Instead, newly created –which I’ve shared in its current form is the below photo, a display in memory of my son, who died in June this year, at age 50.
I felt it was the least I could do to honor his life as a tribute to one lived in the service of his love for God and His son, Jesus. So out of my traditional cornucopia of Thanksgiving I would each day since December 1 choose one of the brightly colored gift-wrapped boxes and place it in the forefront of the picture there. They’re stacked today in the form of a Christmas tree, I noticed, coincidentally.
Having been inspired by the 1958 Tableau of my teen years in Pascagoula, I directed a similar one at our small church in Petal, on the edge of the college town where Art had been born on the 2nd day of December, 1966 in Hattiesburg, MS. We had traveled south to the Gulf Coast for my younger sister’s wedding, held in Pascagoula on Dec 20, returning to Eastlawn Baptist Church, the church of our youth. I had planned and set up the reception; I think we then returned to Hattiesburg for the Nativity (if that sequence is not correct, then it was held just prior to travelling to the coast for the wedding and our Christmas break from college). The point of retelling all this is this scene so clearly brought to mind by one in the movie:
I allowed Art to be placed in the manger at some point in the depiction, to portray the Baby Jesus. As director I was never far from him, I promise! After all, he was not yet 3 weeks old!
I don’t know the significance of remembering this now, today, some 51 years later. All I know is as each tear fell, there followed a certain joy. It is with reassurance that I know this: just as Art was cradled as a baby in that manger scene long ago, he now is cradled in the strong arms of Jesus, at home in Heaven this Christmas of 2017. And I’m so grateful to have been allowed to be his mother, to have witnessed his gifts, lived out in ministry for the years of his life! Thank you, God, for choosing him to be yours, for gifting him with the wonderful wife and children who ministered alongside him, and then finally for holding him in your Hands always, the ultimate “one thing that matters in this world” never letting go---giving him Your Perfect Love. I was so touched by Oliver’s gentle explanation to Shane and could ‘hear’ my son’s own words and message. I have been profoundly touched by the entire movie and especially those words of reminder as if they came from Heaven!
And with each gift drawn daily from the cornucopia these words of the last song in For Christmas resonate:
I brought my tree down to the shore
the garland and the silver star
to find my peace and grieve no more
to heal this place inside my heart
On every branch I laid some bread
and hungry birds filled up the sky
they rang like bells around my head
They sang my spirit back to life
One tiny child can change the world
one shining light can show the way
beyond these tears for what I’ve lost
There’s still my joy
there’s still my joy
for CHRISTMAS DAY!
The Living Letters series continues as long as there are stories (or even praise reports) to share, and I'm always looking for submissions. If you would like to contribute something about how Signed, Sealed, Delivered has impacted your life (or even your wardrobe) that you'd be willing to share here on A&D, feel free to email me. Keep the good going and submit yours today!