the day our advent candles nearly burned out

more than a week early, our advent candles nearly burnt themselves out.  during the benign post supper hour with cheesy radio christmas music going, glasses of wine being finished, children being asked to be quieter, crumbs being pushed from table to floor, sticky spots in the kitchen being avoided, dog and cat taking turns coming and going through the back door…the first one was already cold, the second was giving it’s last smoke, the third was dangerously low while the fourth stood hard edged and new.

agh!  not yet!  it’s not time!  it’s not christmas!

why does it matter? nothing actually HAPPENS then anyway.

i know, but we’re supposed to wait!

yes, this season of advent, this waiting for christ to come. i realized how different this is from how i normally think of these heaven-on-earth concepts.  i’m not waiting for christ to come, i’m waiting for the moments when i recognize christ already here.

advent home

the moments of conversations when eyes get watery with feeling, the moments when i see 26 little hands all working on the same thing, the moments when frost covers blade after blade of grass, the moments when my chickens run to me and stand in circle around me, the moments my children are tucked in bed not more than one room away from me.

but then things happen like children being killed and young men killing children. wars are fought and girls are raped. boys stagger in school hallways still weary from their abuse. women cower and men weep with the pain of their marriages.  parents strain to breathe beyond shallow gasps with the pain of not knowing where their children are.

yeah, easy for me in my world of layered jello making, teacher gift crafting, christmas music playlist making, $4 coffee drinking to ponder the current existence of christ and all things good. easy with a big warm house and cars that run, extended family that loves me without question, and the luxury of using matches for candles.

harder it is in those moments of empty to recognize the great good.  just this week jerry’s dad had health questions that landed him in the hospital.  there were hours of not knowing what was next. eliza said it best: i know he probably won’t die in the hospital from this, but this just reminds me that he could die anytime.  amen, child.  it was hard to think beyond the potential loss.

but i whisper in my center that i know the great good is there.  i whisper it now so i can remember it when i need it. when the milky blue eyes of a friendly stranger or the surprise delivery of food don’t remind me.  when the fog lifting off a field as the sun sets or a friend who follows me just to say hello aren’t enough. when babies so new and grown ups so old they can do nothing for themselves isn’t enough to remind me of the sacredness of it all.  i whisper it through sprinkling cookies and folding laundry and putting on expensive boots and playing bejeweled so i may always know it is there.

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