Many times I have read a short story called “Brass Rule” by Robert Fulghum during Christmas Eve services. It is a story from one of my favorite books, “All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”. In the story Fulghum uses the backdrop of an office Christmas party and the long held lie of “It’s the thought that counts” to usher in his very own Christmas wish. I am not going to spoil the story, so that you can read it for yourself. But I will use this as an intro into the realization of my own Christmas wish.
The Christmas wish I have this year is simplicity. I was driving to the church this morning and I was listening to the local Christian radio station. I was making a stop to pick up some last minute gifts and I wanted to hear some Christmas Carols to put me in the festive spirit. Between the songs the radio station, of course, played commercials. Something that I have lost connection with since I spend the majority of my time in the car listening to Spotify. A commercial came on for a large church in my community that was advertising their Christmas Eve worship schedule. They are going to be having four services, two on the 23rd and two on the 24th. Santa was even going to show up and worship!
My mind immediately reverted back to an earlier time in my life and, for a fleeting moment, I felt a tinge of jealousy. Like my competition was gaining a greater share of my target market. I literally laughed out loud as I was sitting at a stop light. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the church that has four Christmas Eve services, with Santa Clause, over the course of two evenings. My laughter was directed inward as my recognition of an old aspect of myself, that I jettisoned long ago, reared its ugly head. I can remember being obsessed with numbers. So obsessed that I often proclaimed how much I didn’t care about numbers. I cared so much about numbers and I knew that it was wrong. Instead of changing my obsession with numbers I simply publicly denounced any obsession with numbers in order to cover my guilt over being obsessed with numbers. I am sure none of you know anything about acting like you can’t stand the very thing that you can’t stop doing.
It was in that moment that I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for my life. I reached down, turned off the radio and continued an ongoing conversation with God. I thanked him for a new perspective on life. I realized that in that moment, I was experiencing something that I hadn’t experienced in several years and that was health. No heart failure. No IV medication pumping through a port in my chest twenty four hours a day. No A-fib or flutter. No sucking air just to walk across a parking lot. And, no obsession with numbers. Nothing but the simple action of last minute Christmas shopping for the people I love, on my way to a job that I love. Fully knowing that at the end of the day I was going to return home to a wife I am madly in love with. And it was in that moment that it dawned on me that this was my Christmas wish. For in that moment, sitting at that traffic light, I experienced the simplicity of life that truly brings peace on earth and good will toward all people.
The light turned green and my mind turned to Robert Fulghum’s “Brass Rule”. As I drove down the street and merged onto the highway, God reminded me of a prayer that my wife and I have had for a long time. We pray for simplicity. It was as if God was saying, “See, I do listen.” Simplicity can be found in the midst of Christmas shopping, work schedules, health issues and an old habit rearing its ugly head. All you have to do is ask for it and then pay attention. I know what I really want for Christmas, I want simplicity.