The whole house is asleep. I am seldom the one burning the midnight oil but there are too many things to say, my body too alert for rest, my mind too active for sleep.
My son turned 8 today, which means I spent the day baking. Because there is also a full moon, it meant that I spent part of the day barking as well. I’m not proud of this. I yelled at my kids and snapped at other members of the family and my soul was generally distressed. Even now, as I look back on the day, I cringe as I remember how I behaved, what I said. It is as if my soul bled black today and like tar it covered everyone in my path. No one was safe as the darkness seeped from me.
It was not all darkness today. There was chocolate cake and candles. Phone calls from family. One dollar chicken pho. And an unexpected kindness related to our Christmas tree. These are the things I wish I could remember about today, but the darkness hovers over them.
The prophet Isaiah says,
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.”
It is the eve of Advent. Maybe the first Sunday of Advent by the time you read this.
And it has come at just the right time.
We are a people walking in darkness. I used to think that only referred to spiritual darkness, as in, those people who didn’t know anything about Advent or the “real” meaning of Christmas or Jesus.
But the more I see of humanity and the more I examine my own heart, the more darkness I see.
Some of us are walking in a darkness of our own making. Some of us are walking in darkness because others have turned out the lights. Some of us are walking in darkness because it is a natural rhythm of the earth as it turns on its axis. Maybe it is a combination of all three. Or something else entirely.
The candles are my favorite part of Advent because they are such a small and ordinary act of rebellion. They can’t help but stand in contrast to the darkness. Even the smallest flame illumines a corner of a dark room. More than Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve or Easter Sunday, I want to greet the dawning of Advent. It is dark outside now as I type this, and it will stay dark until much later in the morning than I’d like, but I am desperate enough to want to wake again in the darkness and light a candle as the new (church) year dawns.
I want to declare that the darkness will not win, that even if the light is small, it is enough to push back the darkness.
I need to believe again that hope, though small, is what carries us through the dark days. Days past. Days present. Days to come.
Light is always breaking through.
Let’s look for it, shall we?