Christmas Eve at the Béguinage

It is Christmas eve and warm and rainy in Bruges, Belgium. Expectancy, wonder and awe fill the cozy warm Béguinage church. The altar is ready and waiting with a delicate,white, virginal lace-bordered cloth and simple arrangements of roses, yellow and pink. The alabaster  descent from the cross is covered with tapestry befitting a coming King. In front of the starlit Nativity, three sisters say the rosary to a quiet and silent  church. The tourists and travelers are elsewhere on Christmas Eve. The straw laden manger is empty and waiting. Expectancy, wonder and awe fill the waiting church. I had not thought of these ideas (or worse had perhaps forgotten them) in the rush of other Christmases. Now, I realize I had no idea what to expect here at the Béguinage at Christmas. I had no idea there was a day of silence and no idea there would not be a decorated Christmas tree; I really had and have no idea of anything. Advent is the traditional time of expectancy but how long had it been since I had really felt expectant. Since I know nothing of what will happen next at the Béguinage, I feel expectant waiting and hoping. The shepherds must have felt wonder and expectancy; they had only a star and a message from some angels. The wise men had a star but what did they know of what awaited them? Nothing. This year I feel this expectancy of what the God of the universe did on this night; the God made Man. How incredible! In a world, desperate for peace and love. I wish you expectancy hope and joy.

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