I came upon the expression in a poignant story told by an American doctor in Sierra Leone who treated Ebola victims this year until he, himself, became a victim. After a long ordeal he is well enough to be recuperating in his Arizona home, and he shared this with a New York Times reporter:
One night, three young brothers were brought in. All were infected. Their mother had died, and their father was absent. I didn’t think they’d survive. The oldest, Victor, 11, was the sickest. The boy had taken on the role of father, and even when Victor was lying on a mattress on the floor, soiled by his bodily fluids, the younger ones, Shaky and Ibrahim, would not leave him.
They were this little band of brothers. Sometimes I wished I could rip off my protective gear and hold them. Returning to the ward each morning, I kept expecting to find that one or more of the brothers had died. But they kept surprising me. They just sort of pushed each other through it.
They recovered enough to race around the ward with other children. In such a dark place, they were little cracks of joy.
For all the Ho Ho Ho’s and Happy Holidays of the Season, don’t you sometimes feel oppressed by the burden of fitting it all in – the special events, other peoples’ expectations – enough to experience a lurking kind of gift wrapped burn-out? For all its glitter, contemporary Christmas in the Western world is more akin to the scene in the inn than it is the quiet peace of the nursery cave.
The question is: How do we capture joy without adding more to our already crowded existence this month? How do we celebrate the birthday of a King with the honor that He deserves? I believe one answer is welcoming the little cracks of joy as they come – letting them widen by paying attention and capturing their meaning.
John begins his story of Jesus’ life with these words, “In Him [Jesus] appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.” (John 1:5 Phillips) May you be surprised by many joyous expressions that God loves you this Christmas season. May they capture your heart and light your way to the manger.
As we so often do, we welcome your illustrations of our topic from your own experiences. Please send them and give us permission to share them with our readers.