Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Christmas on the Floyd
It's been there since summer, since we started taking constitutionals through the woods in the park along the river. You could walk by it and not see it--it's simply that far off the beaten path. I'm not sure how long it's been out there in the middle of nowhere, but we've been here six months--and so has it.
For a long time, my wife wasn't thrilled about my walking up to it. If it belonged to some hermit troll, she had no desire to meet him or her. So we left it alone, walking past, always wondering who on earth was doing what out there. Someone gathered wood for a fire--you could see that; but whether anyone was sleeping in that thing wasn't clear from a distance. And we kept our distance.
So it grew to be a myth, a mystery, the beginnings of a sorry tale we'd create. And what we settled on--or at least I did--was one of two stark possibilities: sex or death. (I'm sorry--I want my stories marketable.) It was kids from the college down the road who'd come out here to make madcap love au natural. Or else--drum roll, drum roll--someone was dead inside. Who, what, when, where, why?
With the first snow, it became clear no one frequented it--there were no tracks and shallow snow filled the front. There could be no gremlin, no troll, no hermit, no terrorist, no mad gunman--and no wild lovers either. For no understandable reason, someone had just left a red tent standing in the middle of the woods.
Still, when we walk by it, I make up stories. Who would stay out there? why? It's a mess--the only thing inside is a rotting blanket. No one keeps the place up. No one cares. Even the deer and squirrels and rabbits must think it strange. It's trash, just a shame.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve, in the bleak mid-winter, we walked by again. There it sits, abandoned, snowy, unvisited, an eyesore.
Really, it's like most barns around here, big old things no one cares for anymore. They've lost their role, their calling, and many are skeletal, in rabid disrepair. We've got one in the backyard that looks great from the outside, but the inside is hardly a place for a kid or a dog. Mice maybe. Maybe a rat.
We were walking past that abandoned tent yesterday when it struck me, once again, how insanely God almighty planned this whole thing. His son, the Lord of heaven and earth, didn't come in a stretch limo; he was born in a barn, an abandoned tent, a freakish, lean-to stable. Who on earth honestly gave two hoots about what went on in, literally, a shitty corner of town that night? No one.
He could just as well have been born in that abandoned tent in the middle of the woods, I thought, a king in a manger.
There's an unwed mother in the tale, but the sex isn't wild--it's angelic. There's death too, inevitable, excruciating death that baby understood far better than anyone else bringing him homage there in dim light of the stable.
There in the woods, in an abandoned tent, I could somehow see him born, in the night, in sub-zero temps, in the snow beside a frozen river--a baby, the Christ child, Immanuel, God with us.
Honestly, you couldn't make that up.
But it happened. We still keep our distance, but He doesn't and wouldn't--thank God.
That's the story early this Christmas morning along the Floyd.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:09 AM