(Stocking cap creds: John Craig Henson, Sr.)
New York is magical at Christmastime. The most iconic image for me is The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
If you pilgrimage there, beware of flying selfie sticks (yes, there are still a few in existence) and just know that your head/face/hat will play a supporting role in a at least a few Christmas cards. I even saw a woman on the steps of 30 Rock applying makeup for her selfie while her spouse held the mirror. Which was so completely obnoxious that it made me angry…that I had not thought of it.
The sheer size of this year’s Spruce is staggering; the tree is 74′ high and 50′ in diameter. Amazingly, there is no bad side to the tree. Believe me, I looked. Nowhere will you find a bare patch with no lights. There is no wall to hide the bent limbs or squirrel-damage. The 75-year-old tree at Rockefeller is huge, symmetrical and beautifully decorated. On every side.
When I was a high school and college student, I worked at Neiman Marcus in Houston on Christmas break. Most times I was at the candy counter front and center but occasionally I would be pulled into epicure and holiday decor. My Dad being men’s suit manager is the only reason a clumsy girl like me would ever have that assignment. I will never forget the manager’s instruction: pull the tree away from the wall and make sure the lights and ornaments are evenly-spaced around the entire tree. Do not neglect the less-visible half which faces the corner.
“How stupid,” I thought. The level of unnecessary attention to detail was striking. Why waste good ornaments on the hidden half of the tree when you could make the front completely amazing? I wondered quietly why we worked on the half of this Christmas Tree that shoppers will NEVER see? Confused yet respectful, I did as I was instructed. She was beautiful from every angle even if no one would ever appreciate the hidden side.
I am reminded of this tree when I put all my good stuff in the front window and cram the junk under the rug. I proudly display the leg lamp of my highlight reel front and center while ignoring the things which God wants to touch and change in me with the light of His love. This illumination can only happen when I take honest inventory.
The secret of the tree has unfolded before me; character is the fruit of a soul which we assume we can hide or display at will when actually it is expressed continuously in all we do. If we are to desire that God’s will be done on earth as it is heaven we must connect with that God to even know how to breathe.
What escaped me was the fact that the stand for this display tree actually rotated. All the Christopher Radko Ornaments would actually be seen by everybody. My effort so grudgingly expended was not for naught as I assumed.
The interior life of our souls is worth all the time we can sink into it and so much more. Our openness to God’s Spirit before we open our social media accounts is the best work we can accomplish all day. The deep work of silently listening to God’s Word saves us from the humiliation of a revolving tree stand revealing the appearance of goodness while lacking goodness indeed.
The image to project today is Jesus. If all the effort we invest is merely in how we look then perhaps we need a second look at our souls.