The Greatest Gift
Reading Selection pp. xiii – xiv, “Jesse Tree Invitation and Instructions”
Before beginning the journey of leading readers through the 25 days of Advent, Ann Voskamp includes two brief pages inviting us to decorate what she calls a Jesse Tree, each day. Each of the reading selections that follow include a picture of a paper ornament that could be a family craft project to work on together to help process the truth that “He has been coming for us from the beginning.” It’s an artistic way of internalizing the journey.
Let me say up front, if I haven’t before, I am probably the least “craft-y” girl you know, but I live with extremely talented, “craft-y”, artistic people. There’s a beautiful mix of visual artists, performing artists and musicians that live in my home that I get to share my life with…and unfortunately, for most of our time on this earth together I have completely misunderstood and probably misrepresented them as messy, inefficient people who would be so much more “productive” if they would just focus more.
When my oldest was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4, someone gave her an ENORMOUS bead making kit for Christmas or her birthday, I can’t remember which one. Within five minutes, which was as long as it took her to figure out how to unseal the case, that kit had exploded in my living room and about five million beads went everywhere. I remember saying unkind things under my breath about the person who gave her the kit, as I spent the rest of the day on my hands and knees trying to clean it all up. We had an infant learning to crawl and all the beads just looked like a snack to her.
It became apparent that all those beads were never going back into their case, so I found a huge gift bag with handles and just started dumping stuff in the bag. Once it was all in the bag I handed it to Liv Loo and told her she could play with it as long as everything went back in the bag after she was done. Well it didn’t take long for her to start putting her other valuables in the bag. She stuffed it not only with the bead kit, but glue sticks, bits of string, construction paper, gum wrappers, play dough molds, safety scissors and anything else that looked interesting to her. When asked what was in that bag she would say, “That’s my make-stuff.”
She carried that “make-stuff” bag around like it held the crown jewels. She even slept with it sometimes. Or more likely she simply fell asleep in the middle of her “make-stuff” when she pulled it back out long after the door was closed, the lights were off and she was supposed to be asleep. She would sit for hours dumping it all out and creating beautiful art. She was processing her world. Her art included Barney, Popey and me, her sister with the “tight ears”, Mimi and Cod, Aunt Missy, her blue house, her green van and her school.
Back then I cringed every time that “make-stuff” bag came out because it meant days of finding beads and bits of string and paper everywhere. But in hindsight I smile and love all the beauty that came out of that mess.
So, now as I look forward to the season this year of celebrating the Christ who is Love and who has been coming for me since before time…coming for me right in the middle of my mess, I have a much greater appreciation for the “make-stuff” bag. Life is a lot more art than formula. A lot more messy than neat. A lot more about expression than production. It’s all about Love and not having everything tied up with a pretty little bow.
On this 31 Day journey, my artistic processing of these truths will be with my words. But this December I think I’ll see if I can find that “make-stuff” bag. And if I can’t maybe it’s time for a new one. I am pretty sure if I moved some furniture in the blue house, I’d still find a few beads and bits of string.