It’s the morning after Christmas and my daughter is teething. Nothing satisfies for long and her constant whining externalizes what I’m feeling on the inside.
I, too, want a lot of things I can’t have today, and I kind of feel like stomping my feet a couple times and whining would make me feel better.
Looking around at the crumpled wrapping paper and the heaping pile of pots and pans, crusted over with remnants of yesterday’s feasting, I feel like my body is moaning along with my daughter — what now?
It occurred to me this morning that there was a “morning after” Jesus’ original birth as well, not just for our celebration and remembrance of it all these years later.
Creation had waited and waited and waited, and then He was born! And stars shone and angels sang and shepherds were sore afraid before they started celebrating. Mary and Joseph were at the center of this most divine supernova in history.
And then what?
I just reread the beginning of all the Gospels, and there’s not a word written about the morning after. In fact, besides a story about Jesus’ consecration with Simeon and Anna, and the time He stayed behind after Passover, there’s nothing written about His next 30-some years.
Thirty years before Jesus began the stuff that was “important” enough to be recorded!
What do you think Mary and Joseph did the morning after He was born? After being so close to the cataclysmic event of history — in my mind only superseded by one other cataclysmic event 33 or so years later — did they get up and start making breakfast and immediately getting on with it? Or did they wait around, hoping for visitors more important than shepherds, wishing somebody would bring some expensive gifts? And if so, how long did they wait?
Were they at all disappointed that the trumpets didn’t keep playing or that baby Jesus didn’t start issuing orders about His new kingdom when He was one week old? Or did they just get right to work with no regrets?
There are so many things in life where we wait long and expect hard and dream big … and then the day comes and sometimes everything goes right and it really does turn out just as magical as we’d hoped for … and then we wake up the next day and life goes on.
The problem with those big, wonderful events is that there is almost always a morning after when we find ourselves asking the now what?
The party always ends. And what do you mean I have to take down the tree which is always anti-climactic, if not downright depressing? What do you mean I have to go back to oatmeal for breakfast instead of bacon and French breakfast puffs? And laundry and work and homework and what to fix for dinner?
We want the feast that doesn’t end. We crave the celebration that goes on and on. We long for the unceasing joy. Because under it all, we were made for the Son. Our cells cry out with the need to be finished with the sins and the sufferings and the boredom and all this waiting to see His glory and His kingdom come.
And the beautiful thing is, unlike so many other things we want, there’s no shame in these desires because it’s not anything like our wanting of more pie or more sleep or more time with distant loved ones.
This longing we feel is one that will be fulfilled one day. Utterly and completely. And these morning after blues turn out to be one of His great gifts to us — a reminder in the midst of the blahs and the discarded boxes that He made us for Himself. To be in pure, unsullied relationship with Him. To see Him face to face and ponder Him anew.
And nothing less will satisfy us in our deepest places.
Maybe it’s not a gift we put on our list, but it’s a gift we often need the morning after.
So what now?
I guess we get up and get dressed. Maybe we make the bed and throw in a load of laundry while our morning cup of goodness is brewing. Maybe write a note to that friend we keep thinking about. Take a deep breath, and get back to work loving each other deeply and trying to cover each others’ multitude of sins.
Go back to waiting for that day of all days — because He will be coming again, of that we can be sure. But it will be as it always has been, in His time.