Bells and I love this song, the drummer boys song, that is. It’s so good, right? Over and over she sang it last advent. Completely unable to articulate the words of the song in her four year old vocabularly limits, it was just so very cute, melting my heart every slewed word at a time.
We put it on the other day. I think it may have been October so I mean, a little early but it was on the radio and when we heard it we just couldn’t help but stop and sing along – joy consuming our little hearts and filling up our car.
But later that same day, in the evening, I found myself sitting in front of the fireplace in the criss-cross-applesauce position, face so close I almost set myself ablaze. And with tears pouring down my face, I fought my way through life with God.
I HAVE NOTHING. I said with arms open and extended, emphasizing the nothing.
I have no faith. I have no hope. The depths of these statements hit as I confessed each word and then with tears rushing down my face I sobbed out slowly and articulately: I. HAVE. NO. GIFTS. TO. BRING.!
I paused a long pause and then as if I was a grand conductor of a symphony I played out with my hands and mumbled out through the tears pouring over my lips: Ba Rump Ba Bum Bum!
We giggled. God and I, that is.
At a moment so perfectly honest and true and in tune, to my heart.
I am the drummer boy this advent.
And dammit, it feels good.
To be the drummer boy.
For the first time in my life I don’t feel like I have to get it all right. I get to just show up this Christmas.
Play my very own song for the king.
I don’t’ have to go out shopping for that perfect gift. I don’t have to wait for angels to show up and sing in the mountain’s hills, announcing glad tidings of comfort and joy. I don’t have to put myself in any specific spot in the nativity. The drummer boy wasn’t in the Bible technically, I mean right? He just showed up. Completely out of context, ready to meet the manger.
I gave up my marriage for Lent this year. I didn’t give up on it, I just gave it up to God. This August, mom told me I needed another Lent; another season of dying. She was right. And I did. I did two Lents this year. A friend offered to do a third one with me.
I think I’m done dying, I replied, I think I need an advent. I need to prepare room. For something. I’m just not sure what. But I need an advent.
This year I learned what an empty tomb means to me.
Now I want to know what a manger means to me. What does this tiny little baby have to do with my story and with my God. What was God trying to reveal through tiny little hands and tiny little feet. Through a baby’s first cry, through swaddling clothes and a blazing star!
What about Mary, what the hell did she do all that time on the donkey? And Joseph, I never really got him much. I always thought of him as a guy without a backbone, just giving it all up, the life he wanted for a God who just made him do it. But maybe there’s more to it? To Joseph?
And do y’all know Simeon? The guy spent years waiting for the Messiah. Just waiting, waiting, waiting in a temple. I’ve always had a heart for him. But why?
This Christmas, I’m just the goddamn drummer boy. It's just me and my drum! I feel free to roam the nativity story. If, for a while I want to go to the shepherds I will. If I want some magi time, I’ll jump on the back of a camel. If I need to check out King Herod, I’ll storm his palace gates. Whatever it takes, however I need it. I’m going to prepare room. I’m going to let the nativity change me. IMMA find the meaning in the manger… how can a little baby transform me more into Love, breaking chains of death and bondage while fighting its way into new life and birth.
Come they told me!
…He smiled at me.
…I played my drum for him, my best for him!
Pa rum pum pum pum
Oh sweet drummer boy! I get you. And thank you. For being you. For marching to your own beat. This Christmas, I think you and I are going to be good buds.
But you? What about you?
A drum sounds a lot like a knock, right?
Do you hear it?
Do you hear the knocking?
Will you open the door?
A drum sounds a lot like a heart beat, doesn’t it?
Do you feel it?
Do you feel your heart beating?
Will you give yourself permission to prepare room?
The journey to Bethlehem is just getting started….
PA RUM PUM PUM PUM --–AND-A--- HERE WE GO!