Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?
If you’ve ever seen The Sound of Music, you know the lyrics to My Favorite Things: raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Well, I have a few of my own favorite things: gentle snowfalls, live Christmas trees, and stained-glass windows. These things give me joyful pause, and on those rare occasions when I can experience them all at the same time, I am filled with childlike wonder.
I grew up in a small farming community north of Buffalo, NY where snowfall was common six months of the year. I fondly (yes, I said “fondly”) remember the blizzard of ’77 when my family hunkered down for three days around the fireplace in the living room as the snow drifted in and turned our house into a cocoon.
There isn’t much snowfall here in northern Virginia, but I once had to sleep in front of the fireplace when the electricity went out from ice on the power lines. My husband wasn’t able to make it home till the next day, which meant I was responsible for hauling in the firewood and keeping the fire going. You’d think such experiences would create in me a disdain for winter, but the opposite is true. I love it.
Snow makes me feel small and snug. It reminds me that I am not in control, but I am loved by someone who is.
A lot of my friends put up fake Christmas trees—and I don’t slight them for that at all. It’s certainly a lot easier than taking care of a live tree, and less risky. A couple of years ago, after our Christmas tree had been up for a couple of weeks, I discovered the floor around the tree covered—and I mean covered—with black aphids. They move slowly and are harmless, but they were multiplying quickly. As the bugs continued to fall from the tree, my husband and I quickly removed the decorations, taking turns running the shop-vac to prevent spread. You’d think such an experience would propel me to purchase a pre-packaged tree the next year, but it didn’t. There is nothing better in the morning than the smell of freshly brewed coffee mingling with the scent of a Fraser fir.
A live Christmas tree not only smells great, it reminds me of God’s creativity—bugs and all.
The church I attended as a child was adorned with beautiful stained-glass windows that held my attention when mass did not. Stained-glass windows, which gained popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages, were used to teach scripture to people who could not read. They visually told the stories in the Bible and introduced believers to the saints and prophets of old.
Recently, my husband and I visited the historic city of Charleston, SC, home to over 400 churches, with some dating back to the 17th century. There are plenty of stained-glass windows to investigate there! However, we realized that it was not possible to adequately view them from the street. It’s only from the inside, when the sun illuminates the glass from the outside, that the windows come to life.
Stained-glass windows paint the picture of where my “history” and “His story” intertwine.
I know the dark days of winter are not on everyone’s list of favorite things, especially if you are dealing with loneliness, the loss of a loved one, or an illness. Whatever your situation, I pray that you will approach each day, each circumstance with a growing sense of wonder over who God is, how he moves, and where he shows up in your life. May you look with anticipation for a good snowfall with which to feel God’s embrace. May you seek the aroma of a living Christmas tree and worship God in his creativity. And may you experience heaven’s light shining on you through the stained-glass windows of God’s story.
Wishing you all a wonder-full Merry Christmas!
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS Wonder by Hillsong United.
Lyrics: “I’m walking in the light. I’m walking in the wonder.”