Advent (2)

Advent: To wait and watch, together, for the Light.

Here is the truth: I am fighting my own darkness.

It comes stronger with the winter, the cold, the gray skies. It comes with rejection emails, frank and unyielding. You are not enough, the darkness says, and I try not to listen, but it is so persistent, so sure of itself, so in-my-face, day after December day.

It is cold now, so cold that the dog will no longer venture out into the yard. Instead, he pees on the deck, leaving little yellow dents in the snow, and when we go anywhere, I have to jam the kids into their winter coats and hats and squish them into their car seats.

We live in Minnesota, where winter starts early and lasts an eternity, and already I am tired of the hats, the puffy coats, little fingers lost in mittens. At 4:00, the sun is a ball of ice, plunging into the snow…light dwindling, then gone.

Here is the lie: that Christmas is all mistletoe and holly jolly, silver bells ringing joy into our every moment. We call it “hustling and bustling” not rushing and stressing. We draw peace from picturesque nativities that fall so short of what must have been the reality of that true, harrowing night.

Just because the Christmas tree is lit and the fireplace is burning doesn’t mean the darkness can’t creep in, settling at the pit of your stomach. Sad is something that follows you into the holidays; inadequacy is that relentless tug at your soul.

We went to this Christmas concert, Andrew and I, at the small Christian college we attended. I bought tickets on a whim because we’ve always meant to go and because I wanted Christmas undiluted. I wanted to hook myself up to it like an IV and feel well.

And there was this moment.

It is at the end, the last song of the night. The choir, holding lit candles, leaves the stage. Their robes sway as they move peacefully, quietly up the aisles until they are all around us, the audience surrounded by their presence.

And then Silent Night. Of course.

Next to our row stands the soprano soloist, and the way she sings makes me blink back tears.

They are college students. Their minds are drifting along the course of their lives. They have plans after this with their friends. They will hang out in the student center, go to a late movie, sit next to the boy, the one with the smile. I remember.

But right now, they are surrounding us with their candles and their harmonies. It is enough to make me safe and quiet. It is enough to make me feel held, as if I am beneath a heavenly host, as if they are saying to me, The Light has come, is come, will come again.

They are singing and they are holding their small, flickering lights, and this, to me is Advent: Alone, we cannot dispel the darkness, but we surround each other with beauty and truth and love.

We hold our candles. We rejoice in that silent night. Together, we move forward through the shadowy darkness toward peace.

13 thoughts on “Advent (2)

  1. I fight darkness a lot. Sometimes I guess I just plain give up on God in order to make the darkness a bit more bearable. That seems strange, but in my efforts to reconcile my internal confusion about what it takes to make God love me with my superficial understanding of the fact that he will never love me any more or less, I often carry my entire world on my shoulders, and just giving up sometimes feels easier.

    Christmas once brought huge hope to me. It ignited fire and passion that felt right. I could almost tingle with excitement at any time by just thinking of the power of the baby in the manger and the gift that God gave. Yet, now, the darkness wins too easily. Finding the hope in Christmas takes far more effort than it once did. I have my suspicions as to why, but it’s a really long, stupid story. In 2007 my life changed so thoroughly that it’s baffling to try to explain. And thus the darkness sometimes persists, even tho I’ve learned to be happy in the fringes. I’m not very good at the “intentional worship”, but I’ve found that the moments of feeling God’s presence are few and far between if I don’t pursue them. (Sometimes they are even when I do.) And I’m not very good at pursuing them yet.

    But He came to bring light. I pray the darkness won’t win.

    1. Sorry to hear things have been so hard for you. I can relate. Praying that you can find people to surround you with flickering light and the beauty of God’s love.

      1. I always “hate” to even talk about all this because it sounds incredibly whiny and sympathy seeking. I hate being that person. But I wonder how many others that seem to have it all together actually deal with much of the same stuff? We’re all human, but we have this “protocol” that says some things shouldn’t be discussed. Manly men don’t talk about that. Real believers don’t doubt. Real Christians don’t sin. And crap like that. Anyway. Thanks for the space to rattle.

  2. Just so you know, I have never been so sure of anyone’s writing talent as yours. I know that I will see you in print and the kind that’s a bestseller. You write so that we want to keep reading, cutting to the heart. I know I’m not a publisher, but there is something magical about you.

  3. I wonder which part of my Christmastime memories holds the light, rather than the darkness. Broken promises, broken toys, broken relationships, broken families, broken diets. Anyone who thinks it over longer than it takes Santa to bluster a ho-ho-ho will conclude that the light of technological advance darkened the simplest parts of what Christmas once was. Well, that, and the popping of the Santa bubble.

  4. “Sad is something that follows you” It follows everywhere, every event, it has no regard for holidays, special events, or celebrations.

    “I wanted to hook myself up to it like an IV and feel well.” YES!

    Thank you for your beautiful, authentic writing.

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