I was halfway into the writing of a tongue-in-cheek post when I felt it.
No spark of life. The post was encouraging and uplifting and on the way to imparting hope in the middle of this bizarre year. Yet, it was just off.
Kinda like this year.
My thoughts drift and land on the undecorated tree with lights standing in the living room and then to the advent book waiting for us to gather.
That’s it. Advent.
We’re meant to not fit.
We’re not supposed to find satisfaction right now.
The baby is growing in Mary. God incarnate. God with us. The baby born to sacrifice for us once for all. The King of the universe coated in vernix and laid in a drool-slathered trough to sleep. It’s no wonder I cannot get through an advent reading without tears. This story grips me, it always has.
So many moving pieces: hundreds of years of incredible impossible promises, a caste system relegating shepherds to the lowest of the low, a pregnant unmarried young woman, a young man who loves her too much to shame her (that in itself could be an epic love story), pagan star gazers who read and understood more clearly than the Jewish leaders, a horrid evil king, murder and slaughter of innocent babies, fear, uncertainty… expectations that will never be met outside of gazing on the baby in the manger.
Blur the lines and squint a bit and it’s not that far off our own reality.
Corrupt leaders in power, uncertainty, promises never kept, murder and slaughter, injustice, so much fear, hatred… yet because of that Baby on that night, we have incredible impossible promises fulfilled.
But we have not come to that part yet – as my daughter’s young 5’s teacher used to say.
We’re still in the waiting. Let’s not rush past.
Sit with Mary as she hears her world shatter and her plans collapse with the promise of being pregnant. Feel Zacharias’s disbelief at the idea of his post-menopausal wife bearing a son. Hear the groans of the Jewish people under the injustice of Rome as they ache for freedom.
Sit with the broken hearts in your home. Hold them, cry with them.
Remember the pain… being made to feel less because of the color of your skin or some other part over which you had no choice, a heart so hopeless that relief can only be found in death, watching a loved one waste away, wrongs ignored and justice delayed, loneliness and isolation, and so many more.
Sometimes, I think we believe that if we sit with pain too long, it will weigh us down never to recover. This world is simply too much.
But oh my friend, it is only while we hold the pain that we will feel the weight of hope lifting us in the midst of it all.
There’s a reason the angels didn’t say “Good tidings of great happiness!” Happiness is like trying to catch a sunbeam in your hands and just when you think you have it, you don’t.
However, when you sit with pain long enough to remember hope, joy eventually blossoms. The pain isn’t gone but rather you see hope through the pain.
I want things fixed. I want a vaccine. I want my sophomore to have a normal school year. I want her to have the drama of a soon-to-be 16 year old. No more school done on a device. I want the greatest thing we worry about is cold and flu season. I long for things to be right again.
But in the meantime, while we wait, you’ll find me over here remembering to feel the weight of pain and hope together.