” The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”
The people who walked in darkness….that would be us. There has not been an Advent in memory that has been as dark as this one. Has there? The warm days and dark mornings and early evenings have been what I imagine it is like to live in Alaska in December. The fog that has accompanied these sunless, damp days is reminiscent of Scotland. Today as I drove around Lake Calhoun, the lake itself was invisible through the fog. I could nearly hear the bagpipes ringing off the distant moors!
I am glad for the darkness. This Advent has been difficult to connect with for me. Sometimes it is just this way. The calendar says one thing. The music sounds right. The words are familiar. But the feeling just isn’t there. That is how this Advent has been for me. I feel as if I keep reaching out, trying to pull a cord that is just outside my reach. The pull of waiting, watching, preparation just won’t come.
But the darkness is ever present. There is even darkness in the ways of the world. We know this from the morning paper, from the news report punctuated by snappy, Christmas tunes offering the joy that can be bought for a price. But the weight of the world seems to walk hand in hand with the darkness. So many people I know are holding more than their share of hurt, pain, grief, despair. My prayers surround them. This Advent, I have come to realize, is just different.So I am holding all things gently and trying to breathe deeply in each precious moment.
Last week during worship the amazing Sara Thomsen sang her song of these dark days: “Darkness cover me like a blanket of night, oh, cover me lightly…..Hidden seed, deep in the dark soil of the earth, fertile ground, womb of the night, bring us new birth.” Her rich alto took us all to the place where darkness is not frightening but is gift, the place where what is to be born is waiting. Gentle, deep breaths seemed to become present all around.
Perhaps this Advent is its own learning. The waiting and the watching is its own invitation to stay awake even in the darkness, particularly in the darkness. Like the womb, like the winter, like the night sky, light and birth are always present yet often hidden, even doing their own waiting.
And so I wait. In the days that are short and the nights that are long. Through the fog and the invisible horizon. Where darkness is the blanket that shrouds the very air we inhale. I wait.
Something is coming to birth.