It was such a thoughtful gift! A 12-inch candy cane, root beer flavored, from a colleague who owns a candy shop. The problem I had was where do I keep it until I get home and put it safely on my Christmas tree. (Spoiler alert: do not keep it in your car in below freezing temperatures.)
It happened in slow motion. I pulled my coat out from the backseat of my car and the candy cane came with it. The drop was only about 18 inches, and it probably wouldn’t have done more than crack in half had it not been a frozen glucosicle.
But it didn’t crack. It SHATTERED. A single, instantaneous concussive shockwave upon impact. My first thought was “oh.” My second thought was about how the wrapper was completely unaffected.
In spite of all these shattered pieces, the clear plastic wrapper was still holding all 12,000 broken pieces together. From a distance, it still looked put together, like a perfect candy cane, only broken upon closer inspection.
And that’s when my preacher mind had its third thought: “Well THERE’S a Christmas season metaphor.”
So many of us appear in good shape, cheerful and perfect, when in reality, just under the surface, we are barely keeping it together. This is the season for many that activates grief and a sense of loss at who is not near us for the holidays. Others have been pouring out heart and soul into your work and people and there is little more to give. We can be but a single touch away from completely coming apart.
As we enter the homestretch of Advent, some words of hope and comfort:
#1: Everything will be ok.
#2: Even if it’s not, everything is still going to be ok.
#3: Be gentle to others—they may look like they are in good shape, but they may be hiding more fractures than are evident on the surface.
#4: Be gentle with YOURSELF. We grew up learning to treat others as you want to be treated but don’t always do a good enough job of treating ourselves as we want to be treated.
My final thought as I brought this broken candy cane that is both totally a metaphor and also very real into my home: no matter how broken, shattered, or out of shape, its actual substance, everything that makes it good, and sweet, and delicious, ALL of that….is still there, unbroken, unthreatened. Even if I accidentally drop it again, that root beer flavored candy cane will still taste like root beer, just as originally intended.
Which brings my prayers to you, dear friend. No matter how banged up you may be this season, know that everything that makes you most beautifully you still remains, just as God intended. No matter how cold the season, no matter how high the drop, the flavor you bring into the world is as tasteful as ever.
Even as there is no room at the inn, know that God always leaves a little room for you.
Even as the wisest of men and women find their way over unfamiliar land, know that God always leaves a star to guide you.
Even as circumstances are uncomfortable and less than ideal, know that God will provide those who recognize you for who you are, and make sure you have a safe place to rest your head.
Let us rejoice as the Psalmist in Psalm 139: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well!”
Advent Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Rev. Ryan J. Landino
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Please note that your presbytery leader will be away on vacation leave the last two weeks of December. He looks forward to picking back up where he left off on January 2, 2024 when the office reopens for the holidays!