“O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.”
I am exhausted. I am frenzied. I am sad.
And Christmas is coming.
I can’t think of a year when I haven’t thought this. This time of year where everyone seems dewy eyed and words like “Holly Jolly” and “Merry and Bright” and “Happy” are being thrown around.
Almost every year I feel anything but at this time of year. I am that person. I am the mopey Charlie Browniest of Charlie Browns that Linus calls out.
Deployments or grief, or medical situations, or just plain old seasonal depression so often plunge me right into the pit of darkness, or at the very least greyness, just at the time that the rest of the world seems their Hap-hap-happiest.
Every year it gets to me.
This year is no exception. Our countdown to Christmas? It’s superimposed on top of a Countdown to deployment. The days of him going are drawing so close and my heart squeezes a little more each day with the dread of it.
If that wasn’t enough we’ve had a major home-owner’s emergency. An accidental flood—a bathtub overflow that started when one of my girls went upstairs to take a bath, started the water, and then went back to her room and fell asleep—has caused an amount of damage to the house that I never would have imagined. Our upstairs bathroom and our kitchen beneath it are being gutted. Suddenly I’m dealing with contractors and abatement specialists and making decisions by the dozens that usually stress me out enough when they come in ones and twos.
This is going to take months.
He is leaving in days.
You see where this is going….
It seems like such a worthless thing to feel dark about. We’ve been through worse holidays—Christmases of grief, Christmases of fear over medical situations, Christmases where he already WAS gone and deployed.
A house under construction is far from a life and limb situation.
To feel as bleak and dark as I do about this just feels lame. But we all know I don’t do perspective well.
So into this darkness comes this season called Advent. What is Advent?
It is the season before Christmas. It is associated with waiting, expectancy, longing, hope.
Somehow I can do these words better than I can do the Hap-hap-happies.
I was thinking about this today and I realized that I’m kind of the opposite of most people at this time of year. I am comforted by the long-suffering waiting of Advent not because of light….
But because of darkness.
It gets my darkness. It has gotten it every year.
When I have wanted, as I want to this year, to cocoon away and to just sit a moment and take in just HOW DARK it all feels
I have found Advent again.
When I am afraid to even begin to hope because hoping, well… gets my hopes up….
There is Advent saying…. We can’t truly know the light unless we know the darkness.
So I go ahead and I sit in the dark. I feel it. I let it seep into me and out of me and curl around me. I find a twisted sort of comfort in it. Even more I find comfort in the expectedness of it—right now. These scientifically truthfully darkest days of the year.
I wallow in them.
And while that is truly and really where I am sitting right now. The truer truth is that the only reason why I can do that, why I can bear to do that…
Is that I know the light is coming.
Because the next season I observe IS the season of the light coming. It is the fulfillment of the hope that you dared to hope in the darkness.
I don’t have to be hap-hap-happy. I don’t have to be ok. I am not ok. It IS dark. And I can pause in that… I can really and truly wallow right now, knowing that doing so will make the light shine all the brighter when it does come.