I had no idea the community of people who visit grave sites on Christmas day. All ages. All kinds. It’s the mirror opposite of the birth stories of Jesus. Here we come to pay our respects to those who have left our world. We celebrate them and we acknowledge our lives are forever different because of their absence.

Dave, Ryan, Max and I drove to Leavenworth National Cemetery. It was my first time there since late April when our immediate family gathered to intern Mom’s ashes.  Well, at least some of them. So far her ashes have been spread in Hoist Bay, MN, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ.  But this place of rolling hills and meticulous marble headstones is where we can always visit, because we have planted part of her there.

Such beauty and peace. If you squint your eyes, and let your focus relax, the white headstones become sheep dotting a hillside and, us, the shepherds guarding over them.

In the original Christmas story, the shepherds were the first to bear witness that God had been born into the world. Encouraged to not be afraid, the angels asked them to trust this news would bring joy to the world.

Christmas, every year, is a reminder that God, in us, through us, and with us, is born anew each and every time we say yes –

Yes to being brave
Yes to peace
Yes to opening our hearts
Yes to forgiveness
Yes to joy
Yes to our brokenness and our belovedness
Yes  to speaking, living and celebrating truth
Yes to fully feeling our loneliness, our sadness, our suffering
Yes to simply being present to this one perfect moment

Each and every day, just like the shepherds, we are invited  to see the face of Christ in everyone we meet. And yes, “everyone” includes recognizing him in the face we are most familiar with – our own.

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