Unorthodox Christmas

In acknowledgement of Orthodox/Ukrainian Christmas, here’s a moment from a few weeks back.

It’s minus something–where Celsius and Fahrenheit collide and quicksilver goes brittle. Beelining as best I can across an empty parking, humping over drifts left over from a weekend blizzard, my foot breaks a wind-crust and twist-slips off an empty beer bottle. I catch myself. I walk a couple steps then think to go back and kick it out of the snow. There’s another and I toe it loose as well. There may be a party of Sleemans under there but the hard-pack stops me now. I pick up the bottles and make for the street.

I intersect two guys in clothes of many layers–toques, hoods pulled down, chins and eyes visible under the street lights. I wonder if they’ve been circling for the night. I wave a greeting and offer the bottles. They’re not picking just now, so I put the bottles in a nearby trash. They may be back latter. We walk parallel for half a block, wish each other warmth and I veer off across the street and see All Saints Cathedral a block ahead.

Mary_and_baby_Jesus_in_stained_glass Inside, the dark wood and brick feel warm. Even the stained glass, still dark from a winter morning, is not unwelcoming. There are six of us in the congregation. We read from the old prayer book. Creeds, confession, prayer, psalm.

The lady who gives the homily has brought her teenage daughter. She refers to her. The lady tells a story about how a baby changes everything. Now she talks about the cultural differences, the levels of tolerance for child-play she and her daughter observed while flying Air Cairo. Kids, babies, crawling over seats, exploring isles, everyone attentive, yet oblivious to the commotion–which would be unheard of in Air Canada.

She’s constructing an obvious metaphor regarding the Christ story. Then she asks us to consider God as a baby. Asks us to think about that image…God as a baby. A baby God.

It’s not a simple point when you come to it. No Uber-father, no Avatar, God as baby–helpless, trusting, innocent, receiving–more like my friends who were circling inner-city streets for the night–not much power there. Just a wave of greeting and a bit of warmth.

Where I write this a young mother has brought in a baby in one of those baby-carriers-slash-car-seats. She sets the basket on a table and waits for her Americano. The baby stirs and smiles out. The mother is transformed, eyes brighten and a smile takes up her entire face, then cooing, face-making, reaching, caressing…the coffee waits, all things wait, the baby smiled.


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