Lost on my Way to the Manger


I was never good at directions.

I'm not a typical man, I actually stop and ask for directions when I'm lost. The problem is I never remember what I'm told.

Mostly it's because I only listen the first time.

Did you ever notice that when you ask someone for directions they tell you in detail and as you turn to walk away, they repeat everything they just said again. Like they are repeating it for their own sake.

That's where they lose me. I need to be told once and while it's fresh in my mind I need to run back to the car and take off.

The second time they tell me, I try to tune out what they are saying and my theory is it's like erasing a tape on playback.

I think that's what happened to me with Christmas.

I'm lost this year. I thought I knew the way, but it turns out all the familiar landmarks are missing.

Most of them are still in the attic. Some are gone for good.

Lights, garland, the big Christmas tree, the clipboard with all of the mailing addresses for Christmas cards, among other things, still remain tucked away in boxes.

That's why I got lost.

I stopped and asked for directions from a few friends. They knew exactly how to get there. Or at least how to find their Christmas.

I listened and then when I got home I forgot everything they told me.

What they described couldn't be found in my house.

I sat in my living room. Through the doorway I could see my tiny tree.

Still, I felt little of what I was looking for. I gazed around the room and it was ordinary. No twinkle, no glitter, no greens or stockings hung along the stairs.

I had no idea where I was. "This is Christmas?" I asked.

So, I called for directions.

"Dear God,

This is Bob. I'm sorry to bother you. I know this is a busy time for you as the world is getting ready to celebrate Your Son's birthday.

But I'm lost.

Yes, again.

I'm on my way to Christmas and I can't find it. All the signs are missing. I get the feeling I'm closing in on it and then...then the feeling is gone.

What God? I'm looking at the wrong signs?

But it's all I ever looked for in Christmas. You know, the lights the decorations, and presents. I've had to stop buying presents this year. So, that has me really lost. I mean there's no wrapping to be done.

There's no placing them under the tree. No real joy in seeing everyone opening them on Christmas day.

I've been looking in the wrong places you say?

But Christmas is all that and more, right God? It's memories of the past. Pictures of family gathered around the tree. Candles glowing in the night.

Parties and big dinners, laughter and carols sung by choirs at church. Music on the radio that brings warm feelings of joy to my heart.

I can't find it. Others have. I see it in their eyes.

You're right. Maybe I have been looking at it all wrong. You didn't move it? I mean, you didn't change it in any way, did you God?

It's always been the same, you say, but we've changed it. I understand, I think.

So, in a sense my Christmas this year, being alone, may very well help me to find Christmas again?

I thought Christmas was all about family.

It is, you say. It's about the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The only Christmas lights were the stars. The only directions to it were by following the brightest star.

The only decoration was hay and only three gifts were given.

I remember now.

Forgive me God, but where do I find it, how do I find it on my own?

And God said to me, "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth, and lying in a manger."

I sat quietly. There was no reason for those directions to be repeated to me.

I knew them by heart. Somehow though, I had gotten lost along the way.

It just so happens that my all time favorite carol is "Silent Night." It is, in fact, how I will be spending Christmas this year. Quietly. Peacefully...Silently.

Don't feel sorry for me. Don't pity me. This year I may not have the Christmas I always remembered, but I will have the Christmas I should have been looking for...I was just... "Lost on my way to the manger."

Come with me. Even in the hustle of your busy Christmas celebration. Find the Silent Night and look for the manger. There you will find all you've ever needed.

I hope to see you there.

Merry Christmas!

Bob Perks

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