Fragile things show us beauty this time of year

Published 10:27 am Thursday, January 5, 2023

Christmas is about so many wonderful things.  Hopeful carols wiggle their way into our ears, going all the way down and warming hearts. Smells of cinnamon and sugar float through the air, igniting our senses with the joy of Christmastime.

But Christmas is also about other things, fragile things. Think about the great care taken to wrap a glass snow globe.  We hold it with gentle hands in the store, and we walk slowly towards the car so we don’t break it before we even turn on the engine.  Then, once home, it’s wrapped in easily tearable paper with a delicately arranged tinsel bow on top. We bring barely-living trees into our homes, nursing them with a little TLC and a lot of water. Thousands of tiny glass lights adorn our homes. So many fragile things to celebrate such a beautiful season. So many fragile, breakable things. And yet they give off such beauty and joy.

Christians celebrate something else fragile. A tiny baby boy born in a rough manger in a land occupied by a vicious Roman Empire. On that first Christmas night, that baby boy struggled to use his lungs for the first time. His mouth poured forth cries of pain and confusion as he felt the cold night air and heard the shouts and sounds of his exhausted mother. Such fragility was on display that night, and yet that fragility gave way to the world’s salvation, for we believe that God came into this world through the fragile flesh of Jesus and transformed humanity from within. Even though he was a fragile human baby, light and beauty entered the world in a new, special way.

There’s a lesson here for us as we ponder all the ways fragile things show us beauty this time of year. How many times have you felt broken or fragile? How many times have you felt inadequate? If you are like me, those kinds of thoughts are frequent dance partners that try to claim your attention as you move through life. It’s easy for me to become discouraged, to become despondent even, when those thoughts invade my mind.

Christmas, however, teaches us that fragile things can be beautiful, too. That fragile things can be whole. That fragile things can save the world. Like the snow globe wrapped in a thousand sheets of tissue paper, or a tiny baby in Bethlehem struggling to make sense of his new reality, or even like you, dear reader, fragile in your own way…beauty, light, and life do not always come to us in strength or power. They often show up in what the world might call weak, small, or insignificant.

If you’ve struggled to know your worth because you can’t get past your own fragility, you are not alone.  I’ve been there before and will probably experience the same thing again in the future.  But from one fragile human to another, allow me to remind you of the fact that there is nobody else on this earth like you.  Your humor, your personality, your everything…only you can bring your giftedness and beauty to the world.  You may be fragile, and yes, you may feel broken, but just because you feel those things doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer the world.  You are beautiful, dear friend. Absolutely beautiful. Don’t let your fragility convince you otherwise.

Chris Adams is the rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.