‘Tis the tenth night of Christmas. Ten. One-zero. A full and finished number. Completeness. Double digits.
In the universe of old math:
- For arithmetic, we start to carry numbers when we enter the world of double digits.
- For subtraction, we start to borrow numbers when we enter the world of double digits.
- For multiplication, we start to carry and cross and shift numbers when we enter the world of double digits.
But for life, what happens when we hit double digits? When our tasks, schedules, and responsibilities move beyond simple and straightforward single-digit-ness? When our wisdom, understanding, and discernment must follow suit with growth, depth, and expansion?
Do we panic? Do we forget how the numerical functions work? Do we freeze, tangle, lose our way? Do we carry when we should borrow, borrow when we should carry, cross in the wrong order, shift in the wrong direction?
As numbers grow in size, the options expand. So it is with us. We move beyond the simplicity of Ninth Night living – of wake, rise, eat, feed, bathe, eat, work, rest, feed, eat, sleep, repeat.
We are now grown. We are now double-digit-ed. And so our interactions, communications, relations, formulations, and adorations must move to the next frontier of mathematical faith functions.
We must begin to embrace complexity with care, joy, and anticipation. We must grow up. We must grow out. We must grow down.
It is the tenth night of Christmas, giving us a peek of a double-digit life. View it not as a chore or weight or inevitability. Rather, view it as the culmination of a Christmas well begun, for the double-tens of St. John’s Gospel remind us that Emmanuel came to give life in abundance. Our job is to embrace it and live it.
(John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I am come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. RSV)