Saturday, December 22, 2012

Expectant in Bethlehem: Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

(from The Hymnal 1982, hymn 56)

The doll stands atop the bookshelf in our family room. She seems oddly out of place, in her Vietnamese elegance, amongst the family photos, scattered papers and DVDs. She is neither cute nor cuddly nor worn with love like the Velveteen Rabbit. Nevertheless she stands there, an icon of passionate childhood devotion. My father bought her just for me. My father brought her back with him from Vietnam.

Or maybe he sent her. Was she a birthday or Christmas or homecoming gift? I don’t remember. I remember that he was away at war, that I read my first book aloud to him on a reel-to-reel tape, that I kept a picture of him pinned to the bulletin board in my room. More than his absence, it is these moments of connection I recall. This must be the result of the power of love and faith. My mother, my church, and the military community in which we lived kept us focused on connections.

I never named this doll, never snuggled with her, never employed her in my many games of house or school. Yet she holds a place of honor in my house. She is a tribute. To a father’s love which procured a gift for a little girl out of a war zone.

There are many sad divisions in our lives. Some are caused by war. Some are caused by hurts we inflict within our families. Some are caused by stupid arguments we refuse to mend. Some are minor; some are cataclysmic. None are beyond the healing grace of Christ. Come desire of every nation. Come desire of every household. Come desire of every heart. Come and bind us together. Come and bind us to you.

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012