Yearning, I search for the evidence of Christmas in your face.

It’s Christmas! A pastor is visited by a parishioner. As this person enters, the pastor focuses his thoughts upon his visitor.

Ah child, your mouth is turned down. There are weights at the corners of your lips. What are these weights? And something has squeezed your forehead together so that your brow is as a plowed field, and winter has frozen it so. Come in. Come in a minute and tell me what’s making you frown.

Oh, child, look at you! Your shoulders sag. Your hands droop. Why is this? Your knees are bent. You walk a crooked, stumbling gait; and you blow great sighs from the basement of your soul. Why? Now here is a strange thing: you thought that your sorrow was hidden, but it wasn’t. And when I speak of it with my searching eye, you learn that it’s visible to me. One tiny question, then—the little, intentional why?—like a bullet drops you. You sit. You suck in breath. You shake, you cry, you raise your voice in anger. Like some kind of animal’s roar comes the sorrow once restrained inside of you; and I should be shocked at the brutality of your cry, for you were always so correct. I am not shocked. But I think you are. You make a list with your angry speaking. All of the sorrows tumble out, the weights, the cause for frowning, the reasons for your sagging, drooping, damned, dispirited existence—and there are hundreds of them. The reasons are endless. The list of your griefs stops only when you run short of breath, blinking, overwhelmed to discover that you had such reason to be sad.

And I listen.

While you stare at me in some astonishment, I offer you a cup of coffee. I make it slowly so that you have the time to meet yourself, but not under another’s gaze. I give ...

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