I'm making cinnamon bread for our neighbors today. The house is quiet save this music, which wafts into the kitchen from the laptop. Most of the songs are peaceful, and a few are haunting. An apt soundtrack for the day. I wash the dishes, my hands scrubbing hard at the dough-crusted bowl, and I think of Ann's words. What do we do "in a world that's right busted and hemorrhaging a mess straight out the side"?
The hemorrhage seems heavy lately, does it not? I talk to God. These hopes and fears, this heaviness, this longing. I tell Him as I would tell a friend, and the water becomes lukewarm. I remember being a freshman in high school. The Left Behind series was at its peak, and Christian radio stations played a song with one line that always stuck: "People get ready, Jesus is coming, soon we'll be going home." I lived in fear of the rapture. A teensy bit afraid that I would somehow be left behind. More afraid that Jesus would come before I was ready, before I was able to do the things I wanted to do with this one life.
Today I beg, "Oh Jesus, please come quickly." I drop a few measuring cups into the suds. I am no longer afraid that this life will not be long enough for all my desires. This isn't a death wish, this is a life wish, a plea that the Light who gives life will come to conquer the sin and death once and for all.
And this - this post. Written five years ago but meets this grief too.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I'm not very good at Advent. It's December 11 now, right? The season is halfway over, and I've been thinking for the last eleven days, "Oh, I wish I was following an Advent reading plan. Maybe I'll find something for tomorrow."
It's good news that Advent hinges on a Savior who came for the people who don't have it together.
Still, I'm thinking about Advent today. What does it mean to wait with anticipation and hope? These words fly around for 25 days a year, and I don't want to take them crusty and stale. I want to chew them fresh, write them on my forehead and wonder at their meaning every new morning.
When God collided with earth, and the angels told stinky and huddled shepherds for whom no other living being wasted a thought that night, who was ready for that? Who thought out of all the nights to break Heaven's silence, that night would have been the one? The silence was becoming comfortable, I suppose. If not comfortable, at least normal. Certainly 400 years of no prophet, no message, was easier to swallow than a King coming in a way that no good Jew could rally behind, ready to take the towel of servanthood instead of the crown of the conqueror.
I, we, have the story. We believe the miracle, count it as history that really happened, and yet still. Who is ready for our King to come? To see the clouds split even and the nations gather before a throne - does this read to us as brilliant sci-fi or as reality of truer mass than this table, this chair?
To celebrate the first advent is to proclaim the second. Christ came, and He is coming.
Amy Carmichael wonders this, "What will it be like to see Him whom I have known for so long, but never seen? To adore His beauty; to worship Him in holiness? What will it be like to see Him, crowned with glory and honor, who was wounded, bruised, oppressed, and afflicted...what will it be, when faith and hope fade out of sight--and only Love is left? What will it be like?"
Faith and hope. The rocks on which Advent is built. Faith that He came. Hope that He will return. At the final end, when there are no more candle wreaths, no more pine trees with popcorn wound, no more heartaches and marriages cracked wide open, no more death for those much too young, at that end, there will be love.
And so we take heart. Advent grows old. It's end is coming - and it's one aging in which we can wholly delight.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
By car, by plane, by subway. Aaron met me in Chicago, and we took two days to lose ourselves in the big city. An Amtrak train ride and a ride southwest on interstate, and I was back in our little town with the wide sky. A month gone, and nothing seemed altered. But the changes come slowly.
I sat in the comfy chair this morning, favored Anthropologie mug perched full of hot coffee on the arm, and I took it all in. Our Christmas tree is bought and screwed into stand, waiting to be decked. Christmas cards are written and stamped. I am ready to dive back into life, ready to rejoin the lives of those I love here.
Yet the thought of my precious people in Turkey makes me cry on command. I love those four. In the rooms of my heart, they occupy more than the usual place. I must have told Abby and Drew a hundred times while I was there, "You are my favorite girl" and "You are my favorite boy". We need to be reminded we're someone's favorite, you know? One day I said, "What am I going to do when I have kids?" Abby replied without a moment's delay. "Oh we will still be your favorites." Her confidence is better built than I thought.
Bittersweet life. It will be so until the end, I suspect. I read in 1 Peter this morning. I needed to hear the truth of who I am again. A pilgrim, a traveler. The ache in my heart at not having all my loved ones near to gather in close, the thrill of travel and the comfort of returning to familiar, the sorrow as I flip the World Vision Christmas catalog and herald the greed of my own heart again...these things are all evidence. I live here, but there is something more. There is Home with a capital H, where all that is right and good aligns in walls of a city with no sun but more than enough Light.
I love this song. Give it a listen. It's my anthem for today.