Skip to content

Light in the Darkness

December 21, 2015

It’s been a weepy Advent for me.

I glanced back through my December archives.  Maybe every Advent is weepy.  However, not so.  This year I seem particularly emotional.


It’s strange.  Every year I “opt out” of more and more of the Advent events.  The Jesse Tree was the first to go, three years back.  Much more got dropped last year as I went back to teaching.  This year, even more has fallen to the side.  No Jesse Tree, no Advent devotional, no Sunday night Advent candle lighting.  We won’t even talk about all my prior other Christmas preparations that I shed this year (let’s just say that the first thing on the list to go without much guilt rhymes with Mistmas Shards).

This is my weepy year.  Is the opting out related the tears that seem to be right below the surface?  I don’t really think so.

This year, my tears are not necessarily coming from stress and exhaustion (although that may have a little something to do with it).  It all started a few weeks before Advent on that first really cold snap of the fall.  It was after church and a church family needed their car jumped.  We laughed with the family as they related how the first people they asked for help declined because they may be late for church.  As Curtis was helping jump their car, a homeless woman walked up to us, asking for a blanket.  It took us a bit, but we realized we had a blanket in our car from a soccer game the day before.  We gave her the thin fleece blanket.  We left church somber.  We felt inadequate.  We gave her so little on that cold, cold morning.  The blanket would do little to keep her warm.  Yet she was so grateful. It was more than what she had.


 As I have listened to hatred spill out of the news reports, I have cringed.  As another shooting is announced and the victims names are read, I have cried.  I read the Humans of New York’s series on Syrian refugees and weep more.  I weep for the people who are caught in between.  I weep for those who have so much fear that they think anyone who is different is dangerous.  The list is endless.  The world seems so dark and wrong.


The difference this year from a year or two ago is that I am allowing myself to see the world without cynicism.  The first Sunday of Advent, Sarah Bessey reminded me that I could have hope despite the darkness.  I could weep the darkness.  Instead of writing the world off as hopeless and impossible, I seeing that around me as a sign of my need for God.


Winter is a dark time.  There is a reason many different cultures have festivals of light in this darkest season of the year.  Not only does the light make the darkness seem not quite so dark, the light illuminates that which is in the darkness.  Those things that lurk in the shadows and in the depths of nastiness can be seen in the presence of just a little bit of light.  The glimmer of light allows our eyes to adjust to the darkness, and see the edges of that around us.  The light allows me to see those with not enough and give without conditions, without worrying that a gift is too extravagant or may be misused.  It lets me see that all around me are many others carrying lights as well, some glowing brightly illuminating their surrounds clearly and others like me, who hold a small candle who can just barely see the edges.  I realize that those who need a little bit of compassion also carry a light– despite the world trying desperately to extinguish it because they are too poor or the wrong color or the wrong religion.

And so, as I start holding my light and looking around, I cry.  I cry for the students I have who can’t pay their $4.50 for a field trip.  I cry for the students who inform that their mother says they are dumb and can’t learn.  I cry for the homeless woman who is cold again tonight, because my thin blanket can’t possibly keep her warm.  I cry for those who are victims of gun violence–both this year and years ago.  I cry for those who live in war zones, who didn’t ask to have to flee their homes, who didn’t ask to become refugees.

I cry because this year, I have given up cynicism for hope.  I have given up cynicism for attempting to love my neighbor-the neighbor I know and the stranger whose name I don’t know.  I have given up cynicism for peace.  I hope I can replace the cynicism for joy.

Come thou long expected, Jesus.  Even the playing field.  Give rest to the weary.  Comfort those that mourn.  And let me learn how to shine my light a little bit brighter.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: