For just a little while, it was quiet. My college students have been home for the Thanksgiving holiday, two of them bringing their large dogs with them. My home has been filled with laughter, great conversations, and one very loud, spontaneous rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
(Don’t ask why. I have no idea…)
But last night, they were all out for a little while and it was quiet.
I walked through the house and caught a glimpse of the lit Christmas tree we decorated earlier during the day and this strand of O Holy Night came to me-
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices…
I stood still for a moment, closed my eyes, and whispered a prayer of gratitude.
You see, this year has been hard for me – so crushing at times that I felt like I couldn’t possibly survive it.
Side effects from the drugs that kept me alive…
An insurance company that began denying my claims the day after my mastectomies…
I went through all of this while trying to be a good Mom, keep the bills paid, launch a new book, and finish a manuscript that is due in mid-December.
Which brings us to the season of Advent.
Advent is the dark season of waiting that prepares our hearts for the Christ Child.
Advent gives us the opportunity to take a careful inventory of our lives, to ask ourselves how well we are loving God and our neighbor.
But it is just like God to lead us into a season of preparation whenever he so chooses. Sometimes, he works alongside the church calendar, but there are other times when he leads us into the darkness of Advent out of season. My “Out of Season Advent” was an extended one. It began in October 2021, kicked into high gear with the new year, and took me down to my very foundations in the middle of March 2022.
If you had been here in this home during those hard weeks and months, you would have found a woman who believed, rightly, that her life had burned to ashes.
But here we are at the end of the year and somehow, I am still standing.
My faith on the other side of my “Out of Season Advent” is a brand-new thing, beautiful and sweet, utterly changed.
This is my hope for your Advent this year. Not, of course, that you would endure anything remotely close to what I have gone through this year. Heavens, no. But I do hope that this Advent season does its good work in you.
May you take the time in the chaos of a commercialized Christmas season to be still and ponder the mystery of a love so great that it would sacrifice everything to draw you near.
Can you feel the thrill of hope?
Can you hear the sweet sound of a weary world rejoicing?