Today’s Sign of Hope: A Demonstration of Glee

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Photo by Andy Allen

 

I already noted that this Christmas has been unlike any Christmas I’ve ever experienced. One of the biggest changes was not hosting at my home in wintery New England. Instead, my husband, two of my children, and my brother have come to Florida to celebrate at my parents’ new home.

I will admit to feeling a bit unrooted by this.

Yes, I know, I am still with (most) of the people I love best in the world. We have feasted and feasted and feasted. We have played games, laughing uproariously. We’ve seen beautiful Christmas lights.

Still I’ve struggled. Then something absolutely astonishing happened.

After Christmas breakfast–outside, on the lanai–we went for a boat ride. As we left the canal and entered the bay, my brother spotted a dolphin. We watched it breach the water and then swim alongside the boat. So nifty.

Then suddenly, we were surrounded by dolphins. We had cruised into a pod of at least eight young ones. My Mama noted that they must have known that “they have the day off of school” and were out to play. They seemed to be racing one another. Before we knew it, they were leaping and diving and flipping, playing in the wake of our boat. None of us, not even my folks, had ever experienced anything like this. It was the very illustration of “glee.”

And in that moment, I knew that we would all be able to create new traditions, and find new joys in the season.

Advent, 2018: Reflections on–and of–Light

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The name of our blog came about from a conversation Mary and I were sharing with some writer friends a year ago, as they were discussing their Advent practices. Most of the folks in the discussion were enthusiastic about the season and the celebrations for Christmas. Several had suffered catastrophic illnesses and losses, so were struggling, but still looked forward to the joys the season has always brought them.

Mary noted that for a whole host of reasons, including mothering children who rely upon consistent routine to get through their days, the holiday season has become something she endures, rather than truly celebrates. She quipped, “I guess I’m just made for Ordinary Time.”

To my surprise, I realized that I agreed with her.

See, I absolutely love the trappings of Advent and Christmas—the traditions, decorations, the cookies, the eggnog, the celebrations… I am one caroling-party away from being a character in a Cable Network Christmas Movie. Underneath all the trimmings, though, I have to confess that I am always let down by the season. The extra demands on my time and attention exacerbate my health problems for starters. More critically, though, is my ongoing wrestling with the Almighty to hang onto my faith. Advent forces you to contemplate your beliefs, ideally in expectation of rejoicing in birth of the Savior, and in the promise of the Second Coming. When you wake up on Christmas morning not sure of who or what you believe in, well, it’s a bit dark, eh?

I would like to say that this year, here in this public forum, I will finally figure it all out. I’d like to believe that this year, someone—perhaps a charming-kid-next-door type with an adorable dog—will come into Mary’s life and show her and her family the Meaning of Christmas so powerfully that their hardwired anxieties will be overcome in an hour-minus-commercial-breaks.

This is no holiday television special. That’s not how any of this life business works. We know. So, for this Advent, we share a more modest goal:

Find the bits of light that come this season and pay attention to what they illuminate.

We invite you to join us as we struggle along the way in the dark together.