The scene: Starbucks Café, evening, three days before Christmas.
The characters: Two young people, sipping and wondering, wondering and sipping.
It was Wednesday evening, and I was in our local Starbucks, just “hanging out,” sitting at a small round table in the middle of a just-before-Christmas last-minute shopping frenzy for some folks combined with a glad-the-shopping’s-over-with celebration time for others.
One of the “frenzy” group spotted one of the “glad it’s over” group she knew and they settled at the table next to mine. The conversation went something like this:
“Why do we do this to ourselves?”
“All this going crazy. I don’t even want to see my credit card bills!”
“Why? Where have YOU been? Don’t you have your shopping done yet?
“Whatever. What’re you doing for Christmas? I’m going home to my folks’ place. Flying. Hope all the presents fit in my suitcase. On second thought, I hope all the stuff I’m gonna bring back fits in it. What’re you doing?”
“Oh, I’m going to church Christmas Eve night, then...”
“Oh, I used to do that. Mom and Dad used to take us when we were kids.”
“Well, anyway, then Christmas morning I’m going to my brother’s and we’ll open presents and have breakfast together.”
“You really still do the church thing?”
“Yep – reminds me what it’s really all about, you know, like you asked why we do this…? I sort of think like one of those wise guys or one of those shepherds in the story and…”
“Oh yea, that sounds like fun, getting the you-know-what scared out of you by some flying star or angels swooping down on you – now that’s a great image!”
“I guess it depends on what you’re hearing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, do you just see all the flashing bright lights – you know, like all the commercial ‘buy this, and that, and pay-for-it-all-till-you-die’, or do you really hear and see what that star and those angels say?”
“Oh, I’ve heard the Christmas story – heard it a million times. Know it by heart.
“What heart is that?”
“What do you mean?”
“What heart are you listening with…and what eyes are you seeing with? Are you seeing and hearing the star and the angels – or just what you want to see and hear? Oh, and what do you want to see and hear anyway?”
“I want to hear that I got just what I wanted for Christmas and I don’t owe anything on my credit cards, that’s what I want!”
“Well, you’ve already got it then! You don’t owe anything on your credit cards – the ones that matter anyway. You’ll know that if you just get the message – the real message. Look again. Listen again. Is this the Christmas you really want?”
What are we really hearing and seeing? What are we really paying attention to? What are we “buying” into’?