Thursday, December 31, 2009

All Things New

My New Year's Eve will be less than exciting this year. Actually more along the lines of depressing. I will will breathe an honest sigh of relief as this year draws to a long-awaited close. With a still-burdened heart I will whisper a little prayer of thanks for the promise that all things are made new and that God has placed eternity in the hearts of mankind. And I will reflect with hope on the words I wrote exactly one year ago today, on a much different New Year's Eve:

It's the last cold night of the year
And I am not who I was last December
And I'm not who I thought I'd be
Though, ask who that was and I may not remember
And time won't stand still
No it doesn't wait for any one of us
None of us
Are pulling the strings
But I am not lost
I am buried in frost
Blooming inward and waiting for spring

There is wind in the windows again
From cracks in the panes, and a snowbird is singing
That all winters come to an end
And warmth melts away bitter cold that's still clinging
To memories of last year
And rocks through the glass that left me all in shards
It was hard
But it's time to move on
And clear out some room
For what's begging to bloom
Every corner the light will shine on.

Be Well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Now and the Not-Yet

I've grown up loving the Christmas season and all it implies for a person of faith, but it's only in recent years that I've taken fast hold of this concept of Advent. In fact, it seems that the older I get the more meaningful it all becomes - this stretch of time between four-weeks-before-Christmas and epiphany (I know, Advent typically entails only the time until December 24). It's significant that we begin the Christian year with a period of resting, anticipating, peaceful longsuffering (as opposed to actively seeking, doing, going). I don't know why this greater appreciation and understanding of Advent has developed with age, but it may have something to do with life circumstances in that there are now more things which require me to wait with expectancy. Children wait, but their expectancy is, for the most part, short sighted and sure. But compounding years seem to bring both more long-sighted looking forward and greater uncertainty. It's much easier for my expectancy to look like anxiety than hope, and I need the constant reassurance that very little is actually in my hands. (Even as I sit here and write this I'm thinking about the myriad ways in which I'm trying to manipulate my situation to align with what I think will produce the greatest outcomes for the future... and I'm failing.)

Each year my comprehension of Advent becomes a bit more conceptually hearty, although the change is slow over time. It seems to have evolved from waiting patiently to waiting patiently with great hope. And this year I've clung to the idea that we wait with great hope because the promise of a savior was actually fulfilled. The Christian people have a substantiated history of seemingly far-fetched promises coming to fruition. And their hopes have been of eternal importance, and mine are mostly not. I don't think I grasped until a couple of weeks ago that between the prophecy of the birth of a messiah and the actual incarnation the Israelites waited for four hundred years in virtual silence. Four hundred years! It makes my twenty three years seem like a tiny breath. It's amazing to me that over centuries they maintained an ardent hope through prayer and tradition and the passing down of stories over time - that the ball didn't get dropped, the anticipation didn't get lost in translation or completely dissipate over time.

I keep coming back to Luke 1:45, when Mary visits Elizabeth after Gabriel has come to her in a dream and Elizabeth tells her, "Blessed is she who believes what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished."

I have great hope that the Lord works things for good, and I have evidence that he unfailingly fulfills his promises. Yes, I realize that Advent is specifically celebrating the birth of the Savior, but for me there are clearly broader implications about the character and faithfulness of God, and about the way we relate to God and love God by maintaining this hope-against-all-odds.

Yet so many things are still so up in the air for me. Those of you dearest to me know specifically what I seek, the weight of the desires and fears from under which I can't seem to climb.

Because what about the things the Lord hasn't promised, hasn't really spoken to me about at all?

I obviously still have a quite a bit of room to grow in my understanding of this beautiful, refining season and story. Here's to next Christmas.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." -Hebrews 10:23