After the Holiday whirlwind and revving up of resolutions, we’re still being asked, “What’s in your Wallet” but never, “What’s in your Manger?” Surely, the greatest gift of all-time was received in a manger. Sadly, it’s no sweet irony that my own personal manger — both garage and mind — has gotten uncomfortably full. No shortage of gifts but, frankly, most are neglected and in need of more love and sunshine than I’ve given them. No room at all for any new meaningful gifts, let alone another meaningless New Year’s “Resolution”, which always seemed like a gift that I’m supposed to give myself as an awkward proclamation that I’ll mend my ways THIS year. It’s another thing to do on top of other things to do…in order to have more.
But letting go is hard to do. And that’s the point. Receiving a gift often requires letting go of something else and giving it up fully. It means needing to open my hands, mind and heart and set free what I’ve been clinging to so that I can fully receive and embrace the gift coming toward me. So often, I’ve been unable to accept gifts because I’m too busy juggling the things I rarely take care of. The best gifts, of course, are those we don’t expect or want but desperately need. I mean, seriously, who ever really wanted a savior in the form of a baby?!?! But could that gift have been so fully received and appreciated if the manger were full of other noisy gifts clamoring for attention? Things happen for a reason.
The things in my manger are very demanding of time and space, both physical and emotional. Most of it is just baggage; some full of lingering memories, others more clumsily packed for some anticipated, hoped-for journey or unmet visions of resolutions past. Though I’ve collected them all with good and noble intent, they’ve become bloated and disdainful of their owner. Now, sensing my awareneness, I know they will fiendishly conspire to intercept other, more life-affirming gifts that beget joy and gratitude. It’s an old trick that’s worked for centuries on millions more than me.
So my resolution this year is clean the manger to let go and give up as much clutter as possible so that I can make a little breathing room. God’s gifts flow freely but they need room to flourish — certainly more than I’ve been allowing. My manger needs to give them a home where they can be nourished, not simply stored and neglected and pushed further into a dark, hidden corner as has happened to baby Jesus. No more. It’s time to return baby Jesus to front and center and make him sentinel of what gets in.
Gifts flow all the time, but our manger needs to be able to receive them. Is it too full and in need of cleansing, or will it let them in and allow them to breathe and grow? Is it ready or does it need to get ready?
What’s in your manger?