The house is (what has become) a familiar sight. Boxes stacked in corners. Cabinets hold only a few essentials. The to-do list ebbs and flows by day’s end. We will celebrate Christmas this year in liminal space – with one foot in our first home and one foot in our forever home.
Stripped of any sense of settled, I have foregone even the dream of the idealized Christmas painted in the classic songs. I have found myself most drawn in gratitude for the Advent truths in the liminal spaces. Wrapped in the rough and worn packaging of ancient texts, I have already received the greatest gifts Christmas has to offer – time spent with a God who reveals what we have not known before, concepts that provide ever-constant openings to a new future, and truths that save me daily.
I find the path one step at a time. The way forward is imagined but ultimately unknown until my leg extends and I place the sole of my foot on the ground before me. From this new vantage point, my eyes scan the ground below and the terrain beyond. My ears discern movement from that which goes unseen but whose presence can impact my next move.
Away from home during this sabbatical year, we are living Advent in an unknown land. The way forward it not known until we extend our legs and find our footing.
Where do the Christmas decorations go in this rental house?
How do we still feel the Advent rhythms away from our church’s rituals?
How do we practice Advent in our small congregation of 5?
Who is this newest little one among us? What will he bring to our family?
When will his nighttime hours extend? How long can my sanity last on just accumulated sleep?
When will strength replace weakness within this body of mine?
What is this world we live in? Will we even recognize this country of ours after January 20?
Where is the rescue to come from for the people of Aleppo, for immigrants, for racial discrimination, for journalists, for our environment, for our souls?
What are we to do in response to all the hurting in this world? Continue reading
Hope means that I don’t need to know. I only need to yearn.
I only need to recognize how often I am asleep when I live today based on yesterday’s experience, when I interpret the next hour based on the knowledge I gained from the last one, when I let (what I have understood of) what has been dictate the form and shape of what will be.
This first Sunday of Advent, I light no purple candle in a sanctuary. In between feedings, with boys wrestling around behind me and a husband graciously holding a sleeping six-day-old boy, I light a candle in our front room and find times for the scriptures and Rohr’s Advent thoughts. I trust that something is there in those ancient words of scripture and contemplative words of a Franciscan friar that God can bring to the weary and wounded.
“Keep awake for you do not know,” Matthew says.
In the morning, I ponder it all. The daily tasks await completion. Yesterday’s tasks were hurriedly accomplished, but not finished. The past lingers while the present demands. My mind struggles to hold it all in balance.
And yet the future continues to be there – untouched by my attempts to control and out of reach from the past’s long reach. Christmas is days away and I cannot yet touch it.
The people who have walked in darkness,
have seen a great light.
The bar across their shoulders,
You have broken.
The tools of war burn in the fire,
around which we dance and rejoice.
– Isaiah 9 Continue reading
“Prayers of the people” that I wrote for last Sunday’s service – words I share so that I might remember them for the times I wait for companionship, direction, or no one.
Pushing the cart around Kroger at 5:00 p.m. and I think to myself – no one moves as fast as a mom squeezing in an errand before picking up the kids. Coffee filters. Eggs. Yogurts. The fuel that keeps this family running day to day. The next morning I find time FINALLY to sit down in the silence. The house is quiet. Yesterday has been cleaned up. Today is before me.
Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there…alleluia.
Standing in my closet, I frantically debate back and forth on the shoes before me. I first choose the bronze flats but soon reverse course. It’s a cold day and they won’t quite cut it. I place them back and pull out the red clogs. I think back to my college-self that wouldn’t be caught dead in the clogs. I place them on the ground and slip my feet in. I come downstairs and I remember who I am – one who is not defined by the choices I make in my closet.
Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there… alleluia.
Rounding the circle loop on the way to daycare, the sky shocks me out of my routine. Pink has broken out and splattered across the sunset. As my hands shift on the steering wheel and I slow down to take it in, it seems radical and extravagant. It seems like a extravagant painting that is being wasted on a busy mom rushing to get boys picked up and home for dinner.
Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there… alleluia.
Pottery Barn catalogs pile up the stress as the Christmas gift list is still blank. The instagrammed Christmas tree selfies on my newsfeed create jealousy in me as our house is still tree-less. Five days into December and the days seem to be speeding by like a train on the tracks…if I slow down long enough to let my eyes follow one train car, I will feel the whiplash when I see that ten others pass within mere seconds.
In the silence of the morning, I wait. I wait for my mind to settle. I wait for Christmas to sink into this heart of mine. I wait… only to realize that the void of the tangible Christmas items points out the void of the best of Christmas’ intangible gifts…the coziness of a decorated home, the peace of lingering conversation, the magic of the gifting season.
The void echoes and calls out to be filled. Continue reading