Christmas is almost upon us and I've been thinking about holy ground and grounding. You might ask: what is she talking about? Well, I used to live in Dallas and for many tourists the “X” on the road in Dealy Plaza holds morbid fascination, marking the “exact” spot of that fateful gunshot in November 1963. I actually felt that same morbid fascination when I visited "Ground Zero" in NYC.
Unless there is an “X”, we never think that something special might have happened on a particular spot, or someone significant may have trod on the sand, grass, or gravel under our feet. What if the sand, the grass, or the gravel could speak to us?
What if they could tell us what it would be like to be trodden upon? Likely, the sand-covered ground was more burden for Mary and Joseph as they dealt with not only a hovel of a birthing place but also the blowing tiny grains that probably found their way into everything that night. However, I wonder if the ground would have considered itself important… the surface upon which a King was born, however unsanitary its conditions. Holy ground. I could go to Bethlehem and say, “I was here. I walked on the very ground where Jesus was born.” I’d be in awe, though I wasn’t there when it happened. My experience would be fleeting.
Today in the town there is no longer a manger, no inn, no stable - just a church where tradition tells us ‘Jesus was born here’… And those exact grains that covered the town’s floor… that were the dirt under Mary and Joseph’s feet, have been buried under asphalt or blown away over time… ephemeral like my encounter would be. But the ground that was the rather inconsequential covering of Bethlehem is still there even if it appears different and has been scuffed by millions of shoes. Ignored and abused, it is the marking of a momentous event… the “X” itself of Jesus’ birthplace.
What are the "X" places in your life? In our lives collectively? Those places tell a story, both great ones and challenging ones. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could see them all as sacred places, a miracle of God? Perhaps the "X" places, both good and bad, are the very things that shape us and help us to grow closer to God as we visit them in our minds and hearts years later.
This season and into next year, I challenge us all to begin to see the "X" places of our lives as momentous events that will lead us closer to our Lord who was born, lived among us and sacrificed his life to show us God's abiding love for us all.