There was a time I marked Advent daily with poems and reflections here on the blog.
There was a time I read poems and reflections daily about Advent. I prayed daily welcoming the coming of the Christ. I had the Advent calendar ready, and even the Elves to dance around the house and entertain.
This has not been that year.
I honestly have no idea where the Elves are. Maybe they will surprise us all and appear on their own. Maybe they can bring the Advent calendar with them, that would be nice.
This year has been one of getting through the day and thinking next week will be better. It has not been a year of depression, but it has been a year of frustration with my mind and my body. Hormones, age, headaches and lack of sleep have all conspired to wipe away enthusiasm and motivation and delight. Not completely…but they sure have made a good go of it.
Life is still grand. And I have still laughed. A lot. And my family has brought much delight. So, this is not a statement of great woe…but it is an acknowledgment that today is the 6th of December and I find myself completely unprepared for Advent.
How about you?
Some of my friends have all their gifts already wrapped and ready to go. Some have had their homes decorated for a couple weeks and the cookies all made and ready to give to others. Some have already planned their Christmas dinners. They are awesome, and it is a delight to see their joy in doing these things. They have read the liturgy for welcoming Christmas, and Christmas trees (go see this book if you are not sure what that is). That is awesome.
Other friends, though, are dealing with heavy things that have distracted from the delight of orchestrating elves and planning dinners. They may not even decorate at all, in fact. They feel the ache of need for a savior and for the light to come…they feel the darkness now a bit more than the delight of hope. And that is awesome in a different way…it is awesome in its heaviness, and I pray that it is awesome in bringing them closer to the presence of Jesus in a completely new way.
Other friends, and myself included, are just getting by. We are not completely overwhelmed, and we are not quite to the delighting stage either. We are looking at the requirements of the day and feeling a bit daunted. We are praying for our children and feeling the burden of raising them in a very dark world…hoping that they will be Image Bearers who bring hope and delight. And we are aware that we are being watched by those children, and we hope we can live up to the responsibility.
We are getting through the day and thinking next week will be better. But next week will be pretty much like this week, and in three weeks Christmas will be over and we will wonder what happened. And it is more difficult to find this awesome. We feel more just muddled and distracted. How do we find awe in that situation?
Are you in that camp?
I think I realized how to find the awe.
I decided to just stop today. To turn to an old friend for inspiration and to engage. To not look at the rest of the responsibilities for today, or even for next week, but just to stop and soak this moment in a bit.
I realized that today I needed to have grace for myself. Grace for the fact that it was a miserable night of sleep, and I am nearing a birthday which makes me feel the reality of hair loss and weight gain and slowing down…and how I want to change all of that. Grace that today, in this moment, I don’t have to focus on that.
Today I can pull out a well-worn book and be inspired again.
Madeleine L’Engle. The Irrational Season.
To the rescue.
I am re-centered. I am listening. I’m even delighting a bit.
Here…it’s my life rope for you today. Take a moment and read and just soak it in. And know that there are a whole bunch of us in all kinds of levels of engagement who relate. We know the frustration and the delight together of being moms in this season. We know the weight of trying to do it right, and feeling like we are missing Jesus in the rush and bluster.
Let us view with joy and mirth
All the clocks upon the earth
Holding time with busy rocking
Ticking booming clanging clocking
Through the stars and winds and tides.
Who can tell where time abides?
Foolish clocks, all time was broken
When that first great Word was spoken.
Cease we now this silly fleeing
From earth’s time, for time’s a being
Bows before him
Who upon the throne is seated.
Time, defeated, wins, is greeted.
Clocks know not time’s loving wonder
Day above as night swings under,
Turning always to the son,
Time’s begun, is done, does run
Of the morning
Time, mass, space, a mystery
Of eternal trinity.
Time needs make no poor apology
For bursting forth from man’s chronology
Laughs in glee as human hours
Dance before the heavenly powers.
Because the Son
Swiftly calls the coming light
That will end the far-spent night.
Waiting for the end. The eschaton.
The night is far spent.
I wrote this on the fly today, sitting in my favorite coffee shop, under the wire of time to go pick up the youngest. I did not check my grammar. I did not edit. I just stopped and realized that writing is something that brings me joy…and that today my brain is working with more diligence and effectiveness. Maybe tomorrow I will stop again and reflect more on Advent. Maybe I won’t worry too much about the laundry and the to-do’s and I will ask the Savior we celebrate to help me know how to celebrate in a way that brings hope and life and testimony.
Maybe tomorrow I will realize how loose time really is; I will have a looser hold on the ticking of the clock. It seems like that ticking is a constant reminder of things that need to be done. Instead, focusing on Eternity in this season. Finding a way to settle in to the rhythm and chronology of Advent time…that waiting and patience and anticipation. Even if the Elves stay hidden and we don’t open any Advent calendar boxes.
We’ll find the way to celebrate that is true to this year…and there is grace for it not looking like any other years.
How about you?