No, it’s not Halloween, when a blog on death would make more sense. Rather, it’s Advent season. Not the time to think about death. For the religious, and maybe even some secular folks, perhaps it’s a time to think about birth. Not new birth, but just birth—the birth of a child in Bethlehem. But death, no, not that. Unless it’s the anniversary of someone’s death, someone very special to you—your brother, your best friend, maybe your dad or your mom. Then you think about death this time of year, and even more so on Christmas Day, for if you celebrate Christmas even in the most pedestrian, secular way, you still are likely to have certain associations of that missing person with the holiday, certain memories emblazoned into your mind. And recalling them can hurt a lot, not because you necessarily have a bad or negative association with the holiday and the person, but actually for the opposite reason, because you have a sweet memory. And they are no longer here to share anything with you, not a memory, not a meal, not even a smile.
How can there be any merry making now on Christmas, in the shadow of such a cutting loss, such pain to the soul? The answer can only be found in the deeper meaning of the holiday. In the book the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan comments at one point about the White Witch not understanding the “Deeper Magic.” That Deeper Magic is what I am referring to here, and it begins with the birth of a child in Bethlehem. It’s a strange story, but not because stories about miraculous births are strange by nature, and relatively common in mythology, but because of what the implications of this particularly strange story are. Those implications are redemption and life.
A professor of mine at college once said to me when he was standing in a stairwell—you see, it’s very simple, pal: either there is a God or there is not. Christmas’ deeper magic suggests there is, and more than that it even suggests that that God cares a great deal, to put it mildly. And that he detests death as much as we do, and that He and He alone can redeem something as vile as death and, for us in this dark world and wide, for now at least give us hope. That’s the beginning of the tale of the Deeper Magic, a tale that opens in a manger in a stable in a tiny town called Bethlehem. If you’re that friend of mine, perhaps far away, for whom I have written this blog on this dark day, please know that the Deeper Magic gives me hope—and it should give you hope, too. And may it begin for you now, this very advent season.