Once again my heart withdraws. It pulls away, like a turtle pulling into its shell. The world has gone mad. I am convinced of it. My heart aches. It is grieving. I am sure there would be tears…if hearts could cry. Within the groaning comes a sadness born out of loss. Somehow, I don’t think it is my own heart I am feeling… God is weeping. He shares his sorrow with me and I sense it beyond words. Outside my window it is dark and the wind howls in low tones, crying out for the senseless violence that has become our world. The troubled notes of the wind express my heart’s cry when words cannot. I sit in silence as another part of me is carved away, like Paris, like Sandy Hook, like Charleston, like New York, and so many, many others. Every life taken… a blow. Every breath stolen…a wound. Battered, my heart gasps for air. It writhes in the darkness and seeks out hope in the light. Is there no peace?
Yet, in the midst of the turmoil wrestling inside of me there is something else. Deep calling unto deep. An ancient longing. An alert anticipation. It is Advent. The time just before hope is born. The time of darkness, just before the dawn. The seed, buried, waiting for the cracking open. The baby, hidden, waiting for the birthing. Burgeoning expectation. All cry out, “Hope is coming!” The very definition of the word Advent means: Coming; the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Meaning that the season of darkness is temporary. It will be swallowed up in light.
Until that time, I celebrate in quiet stillness, among the shadows. I remember a young girl, a refugee far from her home. I think of the agonizing donkey ride and the faithful man who stood beside her. Each step, a sacrifice of comfort and a test of the promise. I think of the long nights of a journey that led to a stable. I feel the fear and uncertainty, the doubt-laced faith of a girl surrounded by darkness. The wonder…can this be right? I know the wrestling of a heart both broken and hope-filled.
It is the season of Advent. A call to prepare. A passion for devotion. It is the crimson blood and the blue revelation of a king. It is the purity of a baby who washed the darkness of the world whiter than snow. It is waiting amongst the evil that is perpetrating violence against creation. It is knowing that below the three ring circus on the surface, there is a quiet seed of hope growing that will soon crack open. It is a celebration of the promises of old and those yet to come. The ones that the weary world is waiting for with the same doubt-laced faith which hopes despite what it sees on screens. Despite what it hears in shots fired. Despite the trembling and weakness fear brings. We know there is a birthing coming and at Advent we are longing, groaning, hoping and with anticipation…we wait.