My feelings about Advent and Christmas have waxed and waned over the years. When my children were young, we lit candles, read stories, sang songs, and opened a special Advent box that I had decorated. Inside would be an activity or an ornament or something that represented a “love lesson.” It was a magical time together, the 3 of us. It is one of my most treasured memories of being their mom.
This year I am slow to move into Christmas. Just today I put up a few decorations. Although so much of my life is beautiful right now, there is a significant piece of me that is raw and achy. I think this is part of the reason I have been reticent to jump into the season.
But today, I began thinking about the significance of incarnation, of the preposterous idea that beautiful, sweet smelling newborn baby flesh is God’s ultimate act of compassion and solidarity. And today I started trying to hold that in my heart.
I have followed my faith in different ways over the years, but one thing has remained constant. It has been my belief that we are accompanied and treasured by a God who loves the world and each part of it with such fierceness and honesty that I am repeatedly pulled back to this “thing”, this person, this Spirit. And believe me when I tell you I have wanted to throw in the towel many times. And have even tried to.
This is a revolutionary truth for my life and my living. And it hasn’t always been “fun”. At times it has called me to places that were godforsaken. But sometimes we must go to godforsaken places and wait … And bidden or not, waiting is what Advent is all about.
So we wait…
… for the labor pains to be over … for a job that will actually support the family … for the results of a scary medical test … for our loved one to realize their addiction is killing them … for the grief to subside … for the chemo to start working … for a bed in the shelter … for just laws that care for the most vulnerable and outcast … to be birthed and to birth.
Birthing is messy. It is painful. It is overwhelming and scary. And although it is a shared experience, it is also a solitary one. If you are waiting in what seems like a godforsaken place, just know you are not alone. Let’s hold each other in it and let it be what it is. In time, we will see the truth underneath the truth – that being the every waiting period is also a beginning. But it’s ok for now just to wait together.