Even on the grey days there is light. I tell myself remember this truth and always go looking with heavy-laden hope. Be open, expectant, hopeful that it will find me, embrace me in my place of waiting. Sometimes I’m waiting on the edge of the shadows. On the cusp. But we find each other, the light and I. Advent reminds us to wait for the Light. We are the wisemen, the shepherds, the mothers, the wives. We are in the fields, in the hills, in the suburbs, by the sea, in the cities and in need.
Unlike the coastal lighthouses, whose beacons make their rounds in a 360 degree course, shining light here and here and then there, the Light is omnipresent. I remind myself it is here. It has come into the world. The Genesis light is now the Light in the dark.
Most mornings it finds me in the parlor. We meet there as the radiant beams pour through the bare windows. Some days the scale is grand and some days it is faint and weak. In December it is more sacred, holy, and even more welcome as it fights the cold, fights the dark. The sixteen month old English cocker spaniel finds the light and curls up in the path of its puddling. Even she knows the healing power of morning sunlight.
I add another strand of lights and another and another, as if I am beating away the darkness. The lights are my arsenal against the dark. I know it is fleeting and only temporary, the tinkle lights, strand on strand, and the candles that look so real I could swear they were fire and ash, they serve as a shield of protection. And a reminder. And a symbol. And a promise. The Light is everything. It is the Shadow-chaser. It is the Hope-bearer. Every light is a reminder that the Light has won over the darkness.
The news wears a cloak of ebony black—a shade of sin and discord and when-will-it-end. But there is news of the heroes too.The sung and unsung ones. The ones who make the cover and the ones who do good deeds in the quiet places. They are light bearers too. The truth-tellers, the ones feeding the hungry and serving the poor. The ones doing the quiet work of everyday love.
Last Christmas was mother’s last one with us. That makes this one our first one without her. I want to ask her questions about the old family treasures that I pulled from the bins in my garden shed. I want to ask her about a memory I have of a Christmas past, during this Christmas present—one heavy with memory—and I nod in both grief at her absence and joy in where she is. I come to terms with the truth that the Christmas future, each one will be one without her among us. Until we are together again.
Every Advent moment is a mix of light and dark. The garden shed in which we store the Christmas ornaments is dark and dank. I stumble and gather the storage bins. I rummage through them, bringing in my favorites. I am eager to collect the best and the brightest. To leave behind the rumpled and worn, the tired and torn. I want to leave behind the one-winged angel and the broken star. I want to discard the faded and the old. But a mix of old and new is the truest story. A mix of broken and whole tells a truer tale.
Joy to the world, the Light of the World was born into darkness! He comes to bring new life to our tired and worn out world. We are days away from Christmas day. Every day of Advent is a brighter step because of His birth. We mothers and wives, daughters and sisters, fresh-faced and wrinkle-laden, we plug in the strands of lights and strike a match or turn on a battery switch remembering with symbols of brightness that the Light of the World extinguishes the darkness once and for all.
So we proclaim and rejoice with the music makers, the hymn-writers, the carolers, the grieving, the sorrowful, and the peace-seekers:
“No more let sins and sorrows grow.”
“Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.”
And with a hope-heavy chorus and joyful-joyful-we-adore-Thee refrain we raise our faces to the Light and say glory to the new-born King.