A year ago, my eyes seemed to do nothing but cry.
Broken-hearted and exultant, hurt and joy-filled, reflective and hopeful at the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I’d returned to work full-time in September, with Cancan in tote much of the time – and instead of retracing the steps I’d walked in months and years prior, pain and hurt and blame held the upper hand. I’d make apologies, pleading to make right that which had somehow gone wrong, only to find that another I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry needed to be uttered. I was exhausted emotionally, physically, spiritually – and at the end of the day, it took all my energy to muster and ask and plead, Where are you in the middle of this, God? Because it didn’t make sense. Heartache isn’t supposed to coincide with the Church.
But sometimes it’s a reality.
Sometimes it happens.
Even though I looked forward to life slowing down, to pursuing The Writer’s Dream, to being the primary caregiver for my son, there was still hurt in the present. I yearned and I longed for everything wrong to be made right again, but no matter what I did or said or seemed to believed, situations and circumstances and conversations seemed beyond my control.
Against my nature, I began to learn what it means to sit with the tension, to embrace the discomfort and the gray that can overwhelm.
I began to sit with Advent.
I sit at the piano and turn to page 38; I let my fingers do the talking as the mournful triplets repeat and build, repeat and build:
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn
Fall – on your knees,
O hear, the angel voices…
I remember the gray of a year ago.
I embrace expectations lost and I let go, I cling to the Already-But-Not-Yet, to the thrill of hoping, to the hardship of hoping. A part of my heart still hurts, a part of my insides weary but a sliver, a slice of hope remains, and I pound the keys in remembrance.
I am before my grandmother’s old piano – the one I can’t yet call my own yet, even if it technically resides in my dining room for the long haul – and I plunk, plunk, plunk away at the keys. The D# above middle C is numb, deaf to sound, so I move my right hand just an octave higher and the song is given new life.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
in all our trials born to be our friend;
He knows our need,
He guardeth us from danger…
Over and over again, I tap away at the keys. I repeat the song’s verses because I want to believe it, I need to believe it – my soul needs its mournfully magnificent refrain. Because He knows my need.
I too am given new life.
And this, I suppose, is Advent: We wait for Hope to come – we yearn for hope triumphant, for hope fulfilled. Sometimes there’s a voice in the desert that says, “Cry!” – and, like the reality of a year ago, we prepare to lift our voices to cry, even if it doesn’t quite feel right. And sometimes, and maybe some years, that same voice instead says, “Shout!” and triumphantly, we shout, Look! Look! the only way we know how, fingers plunking and playing and breathing new song.
Sometimes, in preparation we cry and sometimes we shout, but always, always, we yearn for comfort, we cling like babes to Hope Coming. Because, because …Look at Him! God, the Master, comes in power, ready to go into action. (Isaiah 40:9, The Message).
Yes, yes, yes.
Might this be our prayer today. Happy Advent, friends.
What about you? What, if anything, is Advent to you? How do you cry, how do you shout? (And thank you for sharing this post if it resonates with you).