Last week I sat with tea drinkers and tried to share the notion that some days I find myself looking forward to being a grandmother. I don’t actually want my 14 year old son involved in reproduction. What I want is relationships where I don’t have to worry about messing up the kids if I do it wrong.
I have an issue with fear, I said. The fear of getting it wrong is exhausts me. Distracted by the notion of a forty-two year old wanting to be a grandmother, everyone laughed. This did not feel pleasant because I wasn’t trying to be funny.
I have been around this bush before. Twenty dollars says I’ll be around it a few more times before the race is done. But as my husband would say, it is what it is.
What stayed with me in the years since I saw the movie, “The Nativity,” was not about the beauty of the birth. What struck me was what a terrifying time and place it all occurred in. Bethlehem under Roman rule was a very bad birthing location. A baby savior for a world drunk on power and violence was a scary idea.
I know my fear is behind much of my tendency to overreact to things, but I don’t know how to let go of it. I have this picture in my head. On one side is a hundred warriors with spears, soldiers on horses charging, and all the ugliness of the world today. Which one is coming at me changes, what doesn’t change is in front of me. A little boy with chocolate skin and bushy curls is smiling, playing in the dirt, and asking me to believe the impossible.
It has always seemed like letting go of fear would be ceasing to feel afraid. The choice is starker and it takes my breath away. The soldiers are real. So is the baby. I’m choosing sides in a battle. Soldiers with weapons vs. lone baby with loin cloth. Stories about the power of love vs. hate seem a tenuous nail on which to hang my hat with angry men charging.
Everything, I realize, comes down to this. Not after fear is behind me, but precisely while it’s rising up. While my throat is tightening and my body is trembling. Then. Now. Against all logic, I can choose the baby. For better or for worse, I can let a flexing two year old be all that stands between me and my deepest fears.
Behold, the propositions of Advent.