I couldn't sleep. It was Christmas.
I'm not sure if it was because it was Christmas Eve or not. I thought the reason I couldn't sleep was that I was sleeping on a double bed in my wife's hometown of Dodge City and it was 6:30 am but maybe I was uncomfortable for a different reason entirely.
I had forgotten my running shoes and I didn't want to make a lot of noise, so I did what I do when I can't sleep. I watch TV on my phone.
I laid down on the creaky recliner and wrapped myself in a twenty-year-old blanket and hand-selected a Netflix feature I thought wouldn't stimulate me too much. It was a concert by a man we Americans have christened "The Boss." As I started to watch the troubadour work his craft, I began to wonder if maybe Christmas was the reason I couldn't sleep.
I think most of us can remember the anticipation of Christmas as a kid. Waking up earlier than you had all year. If this wasn't your experience, you may have at least seen this in movies or books. It's so common it's a cliche. This anticipation, even though I had once experienced it, is so distant to me now it almost feels like it must not be from my life. Christmas as an adult is tough, Christmas as an adult who has made a living working in churches helping other people feel the hope and wonder and anticipation of the story is harder. Especially when you have lost all of your enthusiasm and hope in the power of that story to change anything in the real world. Money is tight. violence and fear are everywhere on the news. Love for our families is complicated and exhausting. Expectations soar as our natural rhythms are craving rest.
This Christmas Eve morning I was only thinking about etching out a little moment for myself before the activities and expectations of the day took over. Hope that I could feel anything deep about Christmas was the furthest thing from my mind. That was until this old man from New Jersey with a guitar shouted to me from my tiny screen to wake up! I swear he was Isaiah and John the Baptist in a black t-shirt announcing the presence of a new reality. He shook me. I woke up to him doing chest compressions on my lazy-ass heart, calling me back to myself. I can't do it any kind of justice here, but you need to watch the first five minutes of "Bruce Springsteen on Broadway" to understand what I'm talking about.
It was a blood transfusion... it was a FREAKING BLOOD TRANSFUSION!!
POP! I felt something break! It was in my chest but it was in my eyes immediately. Desire flushed my heart and I remembered The Story and why it mattered. There was a kid was born out in the "southern sticks." A new kind of human undetected by the powers and systems that run the world and it changed everything.
Yes, the moment only lasted mere seconds but it is still coursing through my veins and head and heart. It was Christmas. Christmas finally came for me this morning. Christmas woke me up.
Thank you, Bruce.