I've never spent an Advent in mourning, not until this one.
There have been Advents of joy, quiet ones, intentional ones, busy ones, uncertain ones. This is the slow Advent, simple out of necessity because my grief has little space for extras this year. And yet somehow, unexpectedly, the mourning fits. I mourn what is as I wait and long for what will be, and throughout it all is the hope that silences the temptation to despair. These past months have carried with them a deep, central, soul-level pain, but it is that pain itself which has served as an Advent reminder to me.
It was a reminder that the Kingdom is here but not yet fully here. It is coming but it is not yet fully here and in the meantime things are not as they should be. There is pain and selfishness and fear and quiet whispers in the night, please, please, let it be okay in the end. There is senseless tragedy and there are blissful moments before everything changes - you never thought, no, not that. We hurt each other and neglect each other and fail to truly see each other. Disease ravages and waves sweep away and children go to sleep hungry at night. No, things are not as they should be.
Things are not as they should be, and I am not as I should be. The pain brought that reminder as well, the reminder that the work in me is begun but not yet finished. It is begun but not yet finished and in the meantime I yell at my children when I should be patient, I fail to communicate well with my husband, and how many times, O Lord, have I been unfaithful to You? How many times have I forgotten my first love, despised you with my actions, remained silent and uncaring towards you and your presence? How many times have I sought the satisfaction of my own desires, derived my pleasure from that which is fleeting instead of finding my joy in you? How many times, O Lord?
Things are not as they should be, and I am not as I should be, and I mourn and long and wait, hope holding me up until the day hope is fulfilled and all is put right again. That pain we feel in the deepest part of us will no longer exist.
All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
For there is a Saviour who has come and is coming and will come again and somehow we can hold all these truths at once, in one hand, roll them through our fingers like marbles. He came. He is coming. He will come. It shouldn't make sense but it does.
And in the meantime we wait. These are the days between Sarah's first hope of life within her and the blessed day when that hope was fulfilled. These are the days of Simeon and Anna, waiting to see the Lord's Messiah. These are the days between a death on a cross and an empty tomb. These are the days in the belly of a whale. These are days of lament and our joy comes from our hope in the one day when all is as it should be.
Maranatha. Come, O Lord.