They’re quite small —
Of all the nuts we can buy at Christmastime, the hazelnut is the smallest. Maybe one third the size of a walnut. Most people don’t even think about hazelnuts and other little things like that.
But at Christmastime, something big happened to our world, something “earth-changing.”
We understand that God is Love, loving, and full of love for us; and that He is Great and we are so small but He came down to Bethlehem with power on our behalf.
We celebrate that first Christmas in many ways — many busy, tiring, schedule-disrupting ways! — and then it’s over, it happened —
The difficult things fade from our minds, and we have a few good memories, and now things slow down — slowly but surely, things slow down.
The Church, in her wisdom for us, gives us Twelve Days of Christmas in which to absorb all the things we’ve thought about and learned. Each year we are given time to process some hopefully more mature insights.
What was all this about? We’re told, today, that the world is just an unimportant third-rate planet, somewhere near the outside edge of a somewhat insignificant galaxy. And the inhabitants of this planet?
Physical, “galactic” forces so great surround the “insignificant’ inhabitants of this earth — one of several “species.”
A little while ago, a few centuries ago, actually, but what is that in “cosmic” “galactic” time? . . . a few centuries ago, a lady named Julian sat and thought about just these things.
She pictured herself holding something small — like a hazelnut — in her hand. Small and fragile — she could drop it at any moment. It could shatter, and who would care?
She had been very sick and almost died — and who would care?
And she received the insight that the whole world lies like a little hazelnut in the hands of God.
Just small and insignificant and breakable — and there are plenty of other worlds. Who would care if this world shattered?
A shudder of vulnerability passed through her. The world’s people are broken and sinful and confused, and can’t ever seem to do anything much about it.
S0 . . . toss the hazelnut?
But the One who was teaching her these insights showed her Love, the eternal Love that He has for mankind in this world. And in His power, He came to earth at Bethlehem to search us out, to invite, to “seek and to save that which was lost.” To seek us out.
Here is something St Francis de Sales taught me, in his writings: We always want the ones we love to love us in return. The One who loves seeks to be loved in return. This is what Julian of the little city of Norwich learned too. That’s how much we mean to Him. He wants us.
God won’t let that little hazelnut go. He has the desire and the power to keep it safe. And “all will be well for that little hazelnut.”
“I shall keep my word in all things, and I shall make all things well.”
That plan to give us hope and assurance began at Christmas. The Christmas Baby grew up and sought us out:
Small and fragile, understanding no more than a little child, He seeks us out and shows us His love and care, and assures us that through Him and in Him, all will be well for us.
Love came to earth to conquer evil and disorder and danger for us, and to assure us that — in Him — we will be “all right.”
Here are some of the words of Julian of Norwich —
I saw that [our Lord] is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing, who wraps and enfolds us for love, embraces us and shelters us, surrounds us for his love, which is so tender that he may never desert us. And so in this sight I saw that he is everything which is good, as I understand.
And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand….
In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it. But what did I see in it? It is that God is the creator and protector and the lover. For until I am substantially united to him, I can never have perfect rest or true happiness, until, that is, I am so attached to him that there can be no created thing between my God and me.
Sin is necessary, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.
Something good to know during these Twelve Days of Christmas.