I keep stringing Christmas lights this year. They’re going everywhere– over all the walls and windows, bookcases and mantles. These small white flecks of light have always comforted me,  a curtain of warmth to the unmet expectations and aches of the season. 

This year I find myself putting up more lights. More lights and more lights and more lights. I’m looking for the ache to dissipate, as if just another 13-feet of little twinkle lights woven around a bannister will heal a heart broken by its inability to hold all things together, remain safe, and fend off a nearness of death. The degree to which my heart and mind feel helpless— and perhaps more adequately useless— is met in equal measure by my Christmas decorating. 

There comes a time when the old things don’t work. The stringing of Christmas lights, the glass of wine, the shopping spree. Dull palliatives for a wound that needs real triage. And this past season feels like I’m in need of some real triage. The decorating isn’t doing it.

But then there are old things that come into new meaning. Advent is here and it is a breath of cold morning air. I’m grateful for the Christian calendar, I’m grateful for the chance to tell time differently. Because when the radio is telling me that “this is the most wonderful time of the year,” Advent says: you don’t have to wrap it up, figuratively in holiday cheer, or literally with another strand of twinkle lights. It declares, with no apologies, all is not well in this veil of tears and it won’t be until the second Advent– the restoration of all things, the healing of all wounds, the wiping of all tears. We look for mercy, we work for gratitude, but we still long for the peace that knows no end.

So these mixed-up feelings remain, callously unaffected by cheer and merriment, and I’m gonna sit here. But it’s okay, because Advent isn’t asking anything else of me. 

 

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