Many years ago I knew a hymn which was based on some words from Saint Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. One line ran “And all creation’s standing on tiptoe just to see , the Sons of God come into their own.” Whenever I hear the Christmas story I have this image of all creation holding its’ breath,. Wondering what is happening. And what will come out of this birth. I feel all that angelic host holding its breath. and , for that matter, planets and galaxies! I can see Gabriel nudging Michael and hugging himself. (For the first time ever, I think, I have a sense of what all the writers were trying to say in those carols and hymns).
I don’t think this sense of wonder is only true of the Christmas story. I think it happens in many other pivotal moments. The psychoanalyst Daniel Stern spoke of “moments of meaning”. He was initially speaking of the meeting that goes on between a mother and her baby for example in the exchange of smiles or sounds or looks. A kind of emotional ping pong as something is played back and forth between them. Stern identified these moments as being crucial to the baby’s development- emotionally and physically.
My fantasy is that the story of the birth of Jesus is another way of talking about a moment of meaning. In this case the mother being the Universe playing with the new baby- which was, after all, a part of itself. As any baby is an expression of its’ parents.
So it is-or can be -in clinical work. There are moments of meeting between a counsellor and their patient. And something new is created in those moments- if both parties will allow it. (The sadness comes when an internal Herod is so threatened that murder is the only solution left). As the gospels have a host of onlookers holding their breath at the birth of Jesus, so for many of my patients. When they can use the counselling well, it is not only them who rejoice. They have their own “heavenly host” of friends, children, lovers, parents etc. who are onlookers- holding their breath. And, at best, wondering at the change that they have seen.