Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ready and waiting

The Christmas tree looks wonderful in the early morning. Emerging from the station at the Coliseum early on Friday morning, whilst the rest of Rome was still in darkness, the blaze of white light against the dark silhouette of a massive pine tree was unmissable. Behind it, the terracotta-coloured magnificence of the Coliseum created its own unique and unforgettable scenario.

As with the rest of the world, Rome is accelerating towards Christmas. Streets are festooned with beautiful arrangements of white lighting and increasingly ornate shop windows. Laden with bags of pre-Christmas shopping, people scurry backwards and forwards. Adverts in prominent positions on the public transport announce free ‘shopping buses’ in central Rome during the last few days before the feast.

Hidden from the rest of the world, finishing touches are added to the Cribs in churches throughout Italy. In many places there will be competitions and exhibitions where, hidden in scenes of towns and villages, the Nativity is set in the midst of a bustling humanity, firmly locating the Incarnation in the midst of everyday life. Often, just as in real life, it is necessary to search before, tucked away in the corner, the Holy Family comes to view.

Amazingly, some confectioners have, in their shop windows, cakes that are surely, too perfect to eat, with their cascading chocolate-covered ‘rocks’ and tiny plants made from icing sugar providing a wonderful shelter for, not only the traditional Nativity scene, but also shepherds, Magi, animals and villagers. Were they not on display in bakery windows, anybody would feel justified in thinking that the base had been created from wood, clay or some such material rather than a very edible sponge cake.

What preparations am I making for Christmas? Am I feeling frazzled because there is just too much to do and too little time… or is there a little place in my heart that is ready and waiting?

God bless,
Sr. Janet