Yesterday I brought home evergreens to fill our home and Josh and I made cookies together over coffee and a rare shared morning, and for a few moments it felt festive and peaceful. But then today we had several events we had to attend and there was traffic traffic everywhere and we were stressed and impatient, and we came home harried and tired and not a little dented by our mistakes and too-long time in a too-crowded car.
Needless to say, it felt much like the whole of life. Sometimes there are respites from the race, moments of pause and of grace where you get a whiff of things being made right again. And then there are the stretches of discomfort and frustration and nothing going the way you imagined in your head.
For me, and for many of us I think, the holiday season brings that hope of a respite from the race. But so often, it is just like the rest of life, with both blessed and cursed days. Advent is no different. It hangs like a promise-- of sitting in expectation and receiving the gift of Joy, of a renewed gratefulness for the presence of God with us. And yet, in reality it's a mixed bag.
It’s full and haggard days in traffic when all I wanted was still and quiet. It’s Josh listing our lineage of trials in recent years with thanksgiving, naming them one by one and the veil being lifted for a brief moment of all that God is doing in our lives. It’s irritation with squabbles and it’s a bleary eyed morning with a wakeful babe that brought unexpected quiet in the dark with twinkle lights and coffee and Spirit-words. It's a month that promises to be both wonderful and disappointing.
When I think of how to receive these days, I’m brought again to the posture of Mary. Part of our family Advent reading in the evening is the Magnificat, that soaring and resplendent song of Mary where she turns from her difficult, humble task and responds with lavish praise to God. In fact, she sees herself as nothing short of Blesse´d. Here is the posture for all of us in our days of blessing and cursing—“Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
And as we accept, as we wait, as we praise, may we be blessed and filled with all the unexpected gifts.