There are many people in the world who can’t wait to put up Christmas lights and sing happy little holiday songs and who generally, around Thanksgiving or so, like to stick their heads up their Santa-festooned stockings and pretend all is merry and bright.
Right now I would like to be one of those people.
Because I do not like waiting. I've never been good at waiting. I'm an eat the Pop Tart right out of the package kind of gal. Look for the hidden presents in the closet in November sort of person.
I'd rather do anything than wait. Even live in denial if necessary.
Like right now, a huge part of me would like to act as if the world is not, shall we say, totally and completely screwed up. With more refugees than ever before. More violence than can be believed. A world in which hospitals full of children are being targeted and bombed. A world with hunger still running rampant at the same time when some of us (yes, me included) toss off $5 for a cup of coffee. With assault weapons available on practically every street corner. With people's rights being ignored, ridiculed, trampled on. With people being killed for the color of their skin. For their ethnicity. For their identity.
With a country in which we’ve just elected a president, and not by a majority vote, who has regularly and with abandon encouraged racism, homophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia, who believes in building walls rather than tearing them down, who doesn’t pay taxes, and who has generally shown himself to be a mean, vindictive bully…and who’s now putting all his cronies and henchmen in place to carry out what he’s been bragging he will do loudly in speeches and with bad spelling and grammar on Twitter.
Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to get all joy to the world-ish right now, when post-election, hate crimes have risen to record-setting levels. As has fear. And mistrust. And despair.
And when there are the personal struggles so many people I know are facing. Sick kids. Lost jobs. Not enough money to pay the rent. Crazy relationships. Abuse that still haunts and rips their psyches to shreds on a daily basis.
Gloria in excelsis deo, my ass.
But of course, this is exactly what Advent is all about. Not being able to sing Gloria...yet. Not being able to smell hope being born...yet. Waiting, waiting, waiting to see the light dawn. While never actually being 100% sure it will.
For those of you who didn’t grow up going to churches that celebrated liturgical seasons (which was me too, since I grew up Southern Baptist) I wrote about it a bit last year in a post called, “How to celebrate Christmas when everything feels wrong.” In that blog entry I described Advent as a time that’s meant to be when “…we sit with the way things really are and hold them tenderly and gently, with the hope for how things are meant to be. Advent is about saying there is this beautiful world we all want to believe in and be living in. And there is a terrible not-yet-ness about that world. Advent is about facing the truth of what is right now, and remembering what it takes to get to a Christmas kind of world.”
A terrible not-yet-ness. Yeah. I could say that again this year. Times 1,000.
The other day a friend was asking if anyone had run across any good Advent devotionals for this year. I suggested a few places to look, but I also started thinking maybe more than anything, I needed to write some of my own. For myself. Because, truth be told, writing is how I figure things out, how I look for God and meaning and grace in the shit piles, how I find my way through.
For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you may have noticed I haven’t been writing much lately. I could give you plenty of excuses about work and busyness, but really, I have just been overwhelmed by all the words flying at me, the last several months via Facebook and Twitter and through blogs and emails, all the people writing their opinions/thoughts/analysis about the election, about the candidates, about the fans and followers and haters of the candidates, about this latest absurdity, about that latest audacity. So many words, it exhausted me, rendered me practically mute. So many words, I couldn’t bring myself to add to them. I didn’t know if I had anything worth adding. I didn’t know if I had anything to say that wouldn’t compound all the hurt and misunderstanding and anger and hatred. I didn’t know if I could get it right. I shared what others were writing, a little, but I just didn't feel like I wanted to pour more consonants and vowels into the sea of words I felt like I was drowning in.
My friend, and fellow blogger Rachel, and I were talking about this the other day, about how neither of us have been writing much… for strangely similar reasons…and about how we have both come to believe it’s time. We need to do it for us, whether we do it perfectly or not, we need to slog and blog our way through this Advent.
So that’s what we’re going to be doing over the next 28 days or so. Rachel and I are going to look at the suggested scripture reading for the day, based on the Revised Common Lectionary and we’re going to use our words, to try to figure out what the hell God could possibly be thinking.
We are thinking we’ll each write one every other day or so. And we promise we won’t do it perfectly. We may miss a day or two. We may not always be eloquent or possibly even comprehensible, or sometimes even nice. We will try, but…no guarantees.
The one thing we will promise is to show up. Like the shepherds did. They followed the little light they had and showed up at a mud-hole of a stable, in godknowswhere for godknowswhat.
So today is officially the first Sunday of Advent. And these are the words that jumped out at me from one of the lectionary readings for the day, from Matthew 24:42:
Which seemed so appropriate. Because that's what I've been talking about isn't it? How I’d rather hide under the covers and pretend everything is going to be all right, pretend someone else will take care of things. How I’d like to numb out with Christmas fudge and shopping runs to Target. How I'd like to be dazzled by pretty lights rather than face the dark hole we seem to have dug ourselves into.
But no, what God seems to be calling me to, calling us all to, perhaps, is to stay awake. Awake to the hurt and to how we can be healers, so we'll also be awake to the signs of hope.
Awake to the injustice so we won't sleep through the slivers of joy. Awake to the fear and despair and awake also to the fact that the story isn’t over yet. And we can be a part of writing it.
It’s Advent. Time to wake up, be alert - ready and waiting for the Christmas that's coming.
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Here's a recent post you might like: Why we need lament.
Here's another recent post: A Scary Camping Trip and What I learned about Racism and the Good Samaritan
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