23 December MMXV
Christmas Eve in Guangzhou, China
Since becoming aware of our child in China, I am perpetually aware of the time of day in her city. When I glance at my watch or my phone, my mind automatically calculates the time in Guangzhou and I envision what Song-Felicity may be doing…awaking, napping, playing, being rocked or cuddled by someone loving….hopefully. Her schedule which has been sent to us has been studied and memorized and studied again. It is known by heart…by my heart. I always “know when she is sleeping and know when she’s awake.”
And I know that it is now the first early morning moments of Christmas Eve in Guangzhou.
As we enter into the holiest hours surrounding the Savior quietly arriving to dwell among us, my heart is reflecting on His birth from a somewhat different angle.
Historically, the focus of my reflection on His arrival has centered on His mother. As a Catholic Christian, she is precious to me. When Christ told the apostle John, “Behold your mother”, He told me to behold her as mine, too. I have always related to her as the mother I share with my Savior. And in the last two decades, as a mother myself, I have reflected on her role as the mother of God, even more. When I was expecting our 6th child, I was due Christmas Eve. My mind often contemplated the Blessed Mother and how very uncomfortable she must have been riding a donkey to Bethlehem while so “great with Child.” I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position in our heated van during those last few days before our child’s arrival. I was constantly reminded during that last stretch of pregnancy how, as Gabriel sweetly stated, she was so “full of grace”…a grace I indeed did not have as I waddled toward delivery.
But this year, I find my focus shifting toward St. Joseph. A growing awareness and appreciation of his role as an adoptive parent is taking root somewhere deep within me. He recognized that he was called to parent a Child who did not share the blood line running through his veins. He had enough grace to have faith in the faithfulness of his bride and in the God they both adored to embrace the role of parenting her Child. Surely, St. Joseph was familiar with some suspecting he was crazy for being confident that he was called to parent a child that was not his “own”. I find such comfort in knowing he likely understands that there is no way for a child to be more our own than for God to ask us to make it so. Somehow, the people who do not understand that pale in the light of the awareness that the man who adopted my Savior knows it intimately. He knew this insecurity and this honor, this holy humbling and this blessing.
I find myself reflecting on the way St. Joseph elegantly and faithfully lived out his call to father the Savior without turning back. Once he said “yes” to the call, he lived it out with a holy purpose. He protected the newborn Jesus and His mother. He abandoned family and career and security of any sort to flee to a foreign land for his Child’s protection. I admire his committed parental witness so much more this Christmas. I need it so much more. I cling to it so much more.
As this Christmas approaches, when I reflect on Baby Jesus, my heart is not only drawn to His heavenly Father but to His earthly one as well…the one who claimed Him and protected Him and loved Him as He dwelt among us. The Lord surely has a special place in His heart for adoptive families because, He, Himself, was born into one. This holy season, I am more aware than ever that, when we approach the manger, we approach it to adore an adopted Savior.
Faithful St. Joseph, patron of all adoptive parents,
Oro Pro Nobis!