Here we are again, at the turning of the year, when the physical world grows dark and quiet and the church begins to talk about Light.
Since Advent came right on the heels of Thanksgiving this year, we spent a good portion of that Saturday decorating and preparing. We started at church, where we hung pine garlands and set out cyclamen and poinsettias:
I lit the peppermint-vanilla candle I bought in early November when I visited my family in Texas. It had been hiding in the cabinet, waiting, like the rest of the Christmas decorations. And although I’m burning it every night now, and the decorating is all done and the shopping is mostly done, I’ve still been waiting.
I waited for various holiday events: our children’s Christmas pageant at church and our office holiday lunch, both of which happened this week. We ordered in from Chipotle at the office, blasted Christmas music, and all of us wore festive hats:
At church, my husband reprised his pageant role as a wise man. That’s him on the left, in the turban (my scarf), with the “frankincense” (a tea tin from my collection).
I was a spectator/costumer/enthusiastic picture-taker. The kids were angels and various animals, and I welled up at the familiar words, spoken by Sierra, age seven: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
I’ve been soaking up the quiet in front of the tree every evening, playing all my favorite Christmas CDs, finally rereading Winter Solstice (after finishing my Harry Potter reread). I’m dipping into Watch for the Light when I can, savoring the words of Madeleine L’Engle and Kathleen Norris and Alfred Delp, still looking forward to the words of Brennan Manning and Annie Dillard and Gail Godwin.
I’m still waiting, though, for a few cherished traditions: the Christmas Eve candlelight service at my parents’ church, family gifts on Christmas Eve night and stockings on Christmas morning, eggnog with my dad around the fire and the reading of the story from Luke 2. Some traditions have shifted, or are shifting, to accommodate travel schedules and new family members, but always we are together, and that is best of all.
I’m also waiting as we are all waiting: for Christ to come, for the Light to break forth in the cold darkness that sometimes surrounds and overwhelms us. I’m waiting for the day when sorrow and sighing will flee away, when the wilderness will rejoice and blossom, when all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
I’m finding comfort in the words of Isaiah this Advent, in the majestic phrases like the ones I used above, which speak of joy and gladness and the dawning of a new day when sorrow and suffering have no place. That day may still be a long way off, but for now, I am content to rest in these words, and wait.