December 24th 2014, Midnight, Holy Trinity Brompton, London
“If you remember nothing else from tonight, just remember these four words. He came for you”
She was so excited, she barely slept a wink. Today was the day she had been waiting for. The white dress and veil hung close by her on a hanger by her bed. So close that she could touch it and feel it. Tantalisingly close. On the floor, next to her, stood a pair of white shoes. She knew deep in her heart of hearts that all of her life had been a preparation for this day; stepping into this white dress, this lace veil, these white shoes. As she lay there, she could feel her heart bursting open with joy. Today was the day. The moon filled the room with magical light, resting on her dress, making it shine even more brightly. She wished she could make the hands on the clock move faster. As soon as dawn broke, she leapt out of bed and got dressed. Carefully, she stepped into her dress, veil and shoes. Steadfastly, she turned the knob to her parents’ bedroom next door. There was not a second to waste. She needed to make sure her mum and dad were awake. The time had come.
Sunday, June, 1955
A gloriously sunny family fun day. A day of exploring pastures new. Too many buses to remember. Travelling… all day long. She loves walking, especially when holding the hand of each parent on either side, but now her little feet are too tired to carry her any longer. Her father sweeps her up on his shoulders and she wraps her arms around his head for the final leg home. There is no place she would rather be. This is a place of great honour and she knows it. She immediately feels ten, twenty, no, who knows how many, feet tall. She is sitting on the shoulders of a giant. She wraps her arms around him even more tightly. Her father, sensing her weariness, points to the night sky. She has never, ever, seen anything more beautiful. A dark blue velvet blanket, peppered with twinkling, shining lights. “You see that star up there”, her father says, “that one up there, the brightest one you can see? That is my gift to you. It is yours. Whenever you look up, remember that.
20th May, 1991
She receives a telephone from her mother, early in the morning. “It’s your father”, her mother say. “I don’t think he’s very well. I have called an ambulance”. “I’m coming right over”, she replies, in a semi sleepy state. She hangs up the receiver. Immediately her whole body tightens and contracts. She turns to her husband, a deep unfamiliar roar arising from her belly…a voice she has never ever experienced before. A scream that seems to arise from the very bowels of the earth. She arrives alone at her parents’ house and goes into the kitchen, where her mother is sitting in a bewildered state. The ambulance is still outside. Her mother asks her to close the kitchen door. Something is happening upstairs. The ambulance men have asked her mother to stay downstairs, in the kitchen. Moments later, they hear the thud of feet thumping down the stairs. Her father is being carried out into the ambulance, he is all zipped up. “I called the ambulance, but your father was already dead”, she hears her mother say. In that precise moment, it feels like all the lights in the world go out at once – sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, twilight…all extinguished by the velvety dark blanket of death and sky. She knows now is not the time to surrender to deep grief and sink under that velvety blanket. Her mother, husband and her children are all looking up to her. Her brothers with their newly married partners, have just arrived and all are gathered at the family house. At this moment in time, her mother, children, husband, brothers, they need her like never before. Time to step up.
22th May, 1991, Morden and Sutton Cemetery
It is the night before her father’s funeral. All preparations have been made. She is sleeping in her eldest son’s bedroom, where there are two single beds, to keep a watchful eye on her mother. Lucy, the family labrador, who has always slept alongside her, has been sleeping on her mother’s bed ever since she arrived. Weary and burdened with grief, she finds it impossible to get to sleep. She turns to look up at the night sky. There is only one star shining that night. The brightest star in the sky. Peace falls on her immediately. Her father has come to her to let her know he has arrived home, safely. There is nothing to fear. She feels herself expand, the two year old, sitting on her father’s shoulders. Feet firmly on the ground, hands touching the sky. This is what it feels like to be a child of the Universe. This is what it feels like to be the Christ-child, the child-in-waiting. This is what it feels like to turn around and come home. Earth mother, heavenly father. There is no better feeling. All you need to do is look up, reach out and touch…
25th December 2014
Four words, one bright star in the sky.
“He came for you”
Life has a deep and simple purpose. To feel this one precious moment. To stay still, long enough to ponder, wonder at and behold this child King in my heart. To enter this sacred, simple, humble stable. I have travelled far, to the furthest star and back. Here I am dearest Lord, my Prince of Peace. Ready, willing, waiting. Thank you for welcoming me home, time and time again. I am yours and you are mine.