Sunday, December 22, 2013

Prayers in the Darkness

Christmas is only 3 days away. It's only 7:30 but I've been awake for hours. The sky is slowly lightening as snow falls heavily. Many inches down and many to come. The silent house was all my own for awhile but now my son and husband stir on the floors above. The dog has finally left his bed and come to join me on the couch, curled up against my legs. I sip coffee and soak in an uncharacteristic slowness to the morning.

Christmas is only 3 days away. People talk about the hustle and bustle and the stress of the stores. I finished my shopping months ago and vowed not to go near the malls in December. Christmas cards were done by Thanksgiving and wrapped presents have been ready for weeks. Each night since December 1st our family has gathered around our Jesse Tree. We have read stories of faith and hope and waiting as we inch towards that important morning that is almost here. We don't talk of Santa or elves, except as they show up in an occasional Christmas movie. We talk of light and love and Jesus around here. I'm not a scrooge- I love this time of year. But he asked when he was three and we told him the truth. Our Christmas is still full of lights and sparkle and cookies and joy. But it's mostly chock full of the life-filling message of grace and incarnation and invitation. And it's magical.

Christmas is only 3 days away and I am joyful. This was a season I dreaded. I wondered again how it would feel to have empty arms, to continue to wait on a dream we've been dreaming for five years. But somehow the admitting of the difficulty, of the dread, brought a new depth to this season for me. I have felt guilty in the past for struggling at Christmas. Not this year. This year I was honest with myself and God. And, oh has he met me. I have dug into Advent like never before and felt surrounded by God's joy and hope.

Yesterday morning I took a long walk. There had been an ice storm on Friday and the trees were particularly beautiful encased in ice, drooping, shimmering. I meandered through the park on a trail I couldn't really see anymore for the snow cover. And I was reminded again that even in the most desolate landscape, there is life. Squirrels chased each other under a pine tree. Red berries hung from bushes and I couldn't help but wonder which animal would seek them out for sustenance as they stood out against the glare of white in the landscape. Soccer goals stand half-buried in snow, just two short months ago supporting raucous games of soccer at recess and after school. You can almost feel them waiting for spring and mud and screams of delight. I know that underneath the snow and leaf litter, a microscopic world scurries on with life, enriching the soil, working tirelessly even in the darkness to sustain the beauty of the plant life that will burst forth in a few months.

God is like that. Sometimes the work is going on in the darkness- and it's not that it's so small we can't see it, it's that it's so big we can't understand it. And sometimes, sometimes he wakes us up before the sun rises and puts this great urge to sit, to pray, to ponder in the darkness. To be reminded that the darkness is not a punishment or a forsaking. It's a part of the cycle of life, necessary and purposeful.

Christmas is only 3 days away. And with it comes the reminder that into any darkness, light penetrates. Joy infuses. Hope overcomes. God is with us, that great message of Christmas, is true and overwhelming.

Christmas is only 3 days away and I am ready and waiting.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful words from a beautiful soul. Thanks for sharing your heart with us and I'm so glad this advent season has been so much more than you expected. Merry Christmas {in case your card doesn't get there before Wednesday}!!

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