Last week I talked about all the farewells I was making as I departed Silver City. This week I’m going to reflect on the hellos, the new connections, that we make whenever we move to a new place. It’s inevitable, of course. We don’t exist in a vacuum. We exist within a network, a web of community. Even if people think they can live completely independent lives, they really aren’t. Mail is delivered through the work of other people, and the roads on which we travel were paved (or graded) through the hard work of members of that web of community.
So…as I move into a new community, I am moving into a new part of the web. On one of our recent transitional trips to Tucson, Henry and I spent an evening with some of my aunts and uncles in Tubac, a town an hour south of Tucson that has a large tourist-oriented shopping and dining district. Tubac was celebrating “Luminaria Nights,” where the walls and pathways are lined with luminarias and the stores are open late.
Luminarias are a special part of my Christmas experience, as I grew up in a neighborhood in Albuquerque where, on Christmas Eve, luminarias were the only permitted outdoor illumination. None of those fancy Christmas lights…this was about an ancient Southwestern tradition, where candles are placed (safely on a couple inches of sand) inside plain brown paper bags and used to light the way for Mary and Joseph, inviting them to stay for the night since there was no room in the Bethlehem inn.
Well…even as I grieve leaving my “home state” of New Mexico, I am being welcomed to the neighboring state of Arizona where, at least in some areas, the tradition of luminarias is still alive and flourishing. It was truly lovely to see those luminarias, to feel the connection between my old homeland and my new. To know that, truly, the web of community knows no boundaries; we are all one.
And it was into that one web of community that Jesus was born. In this season of Advent, we both await and remember that Jesus came to live among us, in this frail, beautiful, broken, stunning web of human connections.
How are you preparing to say hello, to welcome Jesus into your particular part of the web?