This year, like no other, Advent is the beginning of an adventure.
After years and years of trying to escape the guilt of not being with my family in the Midwest; after all those heart-breaking moments in hospitals and nursing homes and being driven nearly mad by thinking about their loneliness and taunting hauntings of the season’s light just outside of increasingly smaller and smaller rooms; in facing the innocent joys of Christmas damned and snuffed out in my immediate family by not giving them children with hope and promise of a spring-like, regenerative life; and in remembering all those years when to sit in church was to fight tears of longing to share the pew with those I loved while hating the person I was sitting with (me); I am near-to accepting permission to love Christmas.
My long-time sorrows and sins have broken like the rivers of a great thaw; clear, cold waters begin to rush between the banks of guilt and giving everything I have, if it were only possible, to bring back a childhood scent or sound of my Mother making supper at the stove, or one more game of cards with my Grandparents, or with my Sister at her kitchen table while the deepening gray skies of Illinois winters prepare to birth a quiet snow for tomorrow morning’s brilliantly lit wonderland.
This Advent I feel a new adventure stirring my soul. It feels like guiltless joy and 89% permission to be where I am. Here, now, with husband and cat and friends and Houston family; at home, at parties, at work (just a little), and at church with my husband, my dearest love (in peace, not shame).
I believe this new perspective came about, in part, by a suggestion given to me at the beginning of this Advent season: to practice stillness each day in meditation, and to easily, languidly explore just being with God. This one commitment and practice is helping me to be present in my present, turning each yuletide preparation into feeling like an adventure!
I know, with some guilt still, that in my past I brought on and borrowed more sorrow and trepidations than needed; that by my fears I caste a heaviness and burden never intended or in good service to others. I wish I could have come to this spot of freedom, rejoicing in God’s adventure, earlier and by an easier path, and in time for adding to celebrations of Christmases with loved ones gone before. I wish I could have been different, but it didn’t work that way.
But what I know today is that by the grace of God, the guidance and permission of some really good people, and by the love of Christ in His arrival and departure, I can truly, deeply, joyously feel the adventure in Advent. And it feels like awe. Maybe even like the awe of a child waiting for Christmas.
Nothing is written; only the promise of a really good ending to God’s story – an adventure worth finding.