For many years now Santa Al has arrived at our doorstep in early December. Yes, I know Santa officially makes his rounds Christmas Eve, but thanks to an amazing woodcarver and good friend, Al Edwins, Santa comes early to our house. We have a standing order with Al to send us a Santa of his choice every year and like going to the St Olaf Christmas Concert, his arrival signals the start of the season for us. Every year we say, "This is my favorite. This is the best one." We said it this year, and we will say it again next year.
During our years in our Madison home these hand carved Santas filled a cupboard in the dining room, but this year our new Santa Al stands alone. His buddies are packed away, since our home in Madison is still for sale, but we are not fully moved into our St Paul home. With our first floor bare of most furniture and awaiting repainting to begin, this is not the year to decorate. We do have a wreath on the front door, but the lone Santa will have to do.
The Best One, The Perfect One
And you know what, this year's Santa Al actually is the best one, the perfect one for he is holding a lantern.
Santa Al is lighting the way. I set him on the kitchen counter as a reminder of the path we have been on, leading us full circle to our heart's home. While the path has not always been straight, there has always been a light ahead of us and we have continued steadfastly on the journey.
But the light is not just about us.
Prepare Ye the Way
The Gospel this last Sunday was about John the Baptist proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." He quotes the prophet Isaiah,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Matthew 3: 2-3
As those words were read, I heard the song from the musical Godspell ring in my head, "Pre-e-e-pare ye the way of the Lord. Pre-e-epare ye the way of the Lord."
We have each been challenged to keep our lanterns lit and to lift them in order to know the way. No matter your faith tradition, our purpose in life is about preparing the way--for those who come after us, loved ones and those unknown to us. Our task is to keep the way clear by living a life of joy and forgiveness and openness and by letting go of hurts and regrets and fears.
Santa Al doesn't look much like John the Baptist wearing clothing of camel's hair and eating locust and wild honey, but he reminds me to "Arise, shine for your light has come." Isaiah 60:1
I promise to lift my lantern high.
Who has held the lantern high for your journey? Where does your light come from? I invite your thoughts.