I’m probably the only one who experiences Advent this way, so don’t feel like you need to read on today.
Because it’s probably just me.
I feel like I am the only one, at least.
The only one who, despite all my God-and-Jesus loving talk the rest of the year, finds myself year after year during Advent in a very dark place. All the JOY of the season that I want to feel, all the LOVE and PEACE and CALM that I pray for everyone else? I can’t find it myself. I barely even know how. I can’t seem to string two words together to complete a thought, let alone find LOVE and PEACE and JOY and CALM this time of year.
And every year I wish it were different.
Until the darkness envelopes me so much that I’m blind to everything. Left straining to see.
And eventually I do, if I squint real hard, I begin to see.
Those little bits of light that shine in even the deepest darkness.
The first glimmer of light was in the sound of my son’s trumpet at his jazz band concert this week. And in the voices of the choir at his school as they joined together in song for the season. JOYful music is contagious. My heart was dancing inside me as I returned home that night, content–even if only momentarily– for the first time in weeks.
There were bits of light in the very dog hair that I’d been cursing the past few months (because it’s EVERYWHERE), when I happened to look at the calendar and see that we brought our dog home for the first time–“rescued” him from eight months of not belonging anywhere –this same week last year, and how he didn’t have any hair to lose then, because the stress of having “no room at an inn” must have really gotten to him. Now, a year later, he is every bit the beautiful and hairy Golden Retriever he was meant to be. Suddenly I found myself weeping with LOVE for this hairy dog that somehow misunderstood the whole “rescue” thing… because in the end the one who feels rescued is me.
There were bits of light in the hustle and bustle of this whole season as I went to the post office today, dropping a bunch of packages right before the lunch hour of our tiny little post office, only to find the post office worker in no hurry to break for his lunch, but instead taking his time to care for my packages and make sure I had everything I needed. Did I want insurance? Did I want priority service? Which Christmas stamps did I want? Suddenly I felt his CALM and I wondered why in the world I’m running around like a lunatic when this time of year his job must be pretty stressful. If he could take it in stride, then I might be able to, also.
And then, a hint that maybe I was finally beginning to understand. It may have been a “sign” if that’s how you like to say it…there were even bits of light in the black sky last night as I walked with my dog. Even though it was still early evening, it felt like bedtime the sky was so black. Until I noticed the shimmering stars in the crisp night air. And suddenly, I thought of the Wise Men, and how they trusted those little bits of light to lead them to their King.
And I realized that maybe the way I have been experiencing Advent once again this year isn’t really all that “wrong.”
Would I like to be more organized? More giving? More cheerful? More loving?
You bet I would.
But it’s quite possible that if I were so busy being all those things, I’d miss the Truth of where the Light comes from.
Suddenly, I realized the only thing really “required” of me this season is to trust in the darkness, and cherish the bits of light I see.
And it’s only in realizing this, that I am just now–finally– able to usher in a sense of PEACE.