One past Christmas Eve, the church we attended put on a unique Christmas program. It wasn’t the classic beginning-to-end narrative of the Christmas story but a play composed of character scenes. It featured not only the characters from whom you would expect to hear, such as Mary or an angel, but a shepherd and Joseph and others.
Joseph’s monologue, in particular, interested me. He spoke about the fact that while he had accepted what Mary told him about carrying God’s son – the virginal conception, the divine incarnation – he found himself stuck at the no-room-in-the-inn part. That, he found harder to accept. If this was God’s son about to be born, and if this was God’s plan they were participating in, and if God was providing the way, marking the path, then why wasn’t there room for them?
He told of voicing this frustration to Mary, to which she responded: “Allow it.”
I suppose the rest of his monologue went on to have Joseph reporting Mary’s further explanation and her encouragement to him to let God work out his plan in whatever way he wants and to trust him, but I stopped listening at “Allow it” and lingered there.
“Allow it” calls to mind Mary’s famous “Let it be to me as you have said” but with an even stronger note of agency and for something on a more human scale than the angelic annunciation. A statement of active passivity, a consent of both heart and mind. “Allow it” and relax. No bracing, straining, plotting to change or avoid. “Allow it” moves in and out with the breath. In this drama of the playing out of divine mystery in human life, “Allow it” seems to me to be one of the strongest, albeit paradoxical, statements of hope I can think of.
Merry Christmas, dear reader. Hope, always.
[Photo: taken on the star atop our small Norfolk Island Pine.]