One thing I have asked of the LORD,
that I will seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
– Psalm 27:4
Bright white twinkling Christmas lights, my Aunt Eva’s savory and perfectly formed pimento cheese filled celery sticks, the smooth, intoxicating voice of Karen Carpenter singing, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” and the anticipation of opening an assortments of wrapped gifts under our freshly cut evergreen tree…
These are a few of my favorite things.
Yesterday, we feasted as a family, like many who are blessed to have extended family and beloved friends together at the Holidays. It was much like I expected.
A bright orange Sunkist-like ring now decorates my not-brown-enough-to-camouflage-any-kind-of-dirt living room carpet. (Which I think is kind of hilarious.) Heavy and breathy tears were cried over a wonderful gift housed in a pink box; pink boxes are clearly a distraction and offensive if you’re a Harvey boy who cannot process pink as anything other than a sissy color. And there were probably too many mothers mothering “too many children” (Yes, I heard that we had too many yesterday…as if that can be fixed now), and some snippy words and heavy sighs may have snuck in and disrupted the joy of Christmas.
It is the way of family, and it is good.
But today, something unexpected happened.
As my house quieted for some much needed rest time, my sister in law asked me to open her gift for me. Somehow, we ended up being the only two in the room, which never happens without some form of attached male needing something. Imagine my delight, opening a carefully wrapped red and green square box, to see clumps of brown paper covering each surprise. I unveiled one pretty object at a time.
I found myself gazing at these bowls, simple and beautiful. The inside of each dish was unique with vibrant color, perfect in shape, and varying in design. And there were even cloth napkins to go with!
I found myself gazing at the beauty of this gift. I was enamored, delighted, surprised, and just plain filled up in the moment. I didn’t need or even want anything else.
In the Christmas busy, I wonder… how many wonderful surprises am I missing? If I don’t slow down long enough to gaze at the beautiful gifts all around me, what will fill my hungry heart?
The Hebrew word for gaze, chazah, means “to perceive, to contemplate, to behold.” When we gaze at God’s beauty, we are filled by His presence. I think this is “the one thing” that David was asking of the Lord in Psalm 27. That he would be blessed to recognize and see and behold all of the beauty that God would place before him, even in the simple, everyday moments.
This season, I’m practicing this habit of filling up on what is beautiful. Taking time to behold the truth of Christmas. We rejoice because of God’s beautiful gift — the Christ child born to us, who came to seek and save a wretch like you, like me.