One of my favorite Christmas presents is a used book. SBC happened to meet the author of this book in NYC and he mentioned that – in spite of the fabulousness of the Captain Underpants series - God Bless the Gargoyles was his mother’s favorite Dav Pilkey book. To my surprise, Dav Pilkey then sent me an autographed copy from Japan.
Christmas is wonderful. Except when it isn’t. How profoundly kind that a person would send one of his books to a fan while he’s visiting family in Asia. And yet, so many people don’t get this level of kindness – ever.
A lot of people are suffering this season with unspeakable pain: families in Newtown, Mobile, West Webster, and my own backyard in Chicago. The last place we want to be during the holidays is with people whose hearts are broken, people who cry all the time, people who moan in pain. But this is why God came to be with us, to help release us from suffering, from loneliness, from despair.
Dav Pilkey nails the message of the Incarnation in a prayer he wrote as part of the story of the gargoyles who are loved by the angels even though some people consider them beastly. Gargoyles were created to guard and protect church buildings, but through the years, their noble purposes were forgotten. People were simply afraid of them.
We do this all the time. We stay away from the ones who are sad on Christmas because they are poor company, the ones who are considered ugly even though they were created for noble purposes, the ones who are broken because they remind us of our own brokenness.
Part of the prayer from God Bless the Gargoyles goes like this:
“God bless the hearts and the souls who are grieving
for those who have left, and for those who are leaving,
God bless each perishing body and mind,
God bless all creatures remaining behind.
God bless the dreamers whose dreams have awoken,
God bless the lovers whose hearts have been broken,
God bless each soul that is tortured and taunted,
God bless all creatures alone and unwanted.“
This is what Jesus came to teach us: sometimes our calling is to be in the last place we’d like to be.
Image is from The National Cathedral, Washington, DC.