This season is a tender time. And oh, this darkness of mine. December brings it every year — that feeling of tenderness, of darkness. That is, if I stop to notice. Stop decorating the house. Stop shopping. Stop planning a lavish Christmas dinner. Stop baking dozens of cookies. Stop going to Christmas events — parties, pageants, gatherings, light displays . . . Just stop!
If we do stop in these advent days, we might just feel this tender time. It’s not Christmas yet, you know. It’s Advent, a time of waiting, hoping, believing. If ever there was a time to practice mindfulness, this is the season. As I move through Advent’s days, I want to move slowly and with the awareness of the tiny miracles all around me.
I want to remember past years and people I have loved. I want to linger beside the Chrismon tree that holds decades of white and gold ornaments and decades of memories. I want to be mindful of my own darkness and the tenderness that is nested in my heart.
Advent is most surely a tender time, and a time of darkness, a time when people of faith wait for the light to come to earth again. Advent causes me to wait for the light that always comes to come into my heart again. Until the light shines, though, through a little baby born in Bethlehem, days will be dark and tender.
I am remembering my youngest brother who would have had a birthday this month. The loss of him far too soon will always leave a lump in my throat. December, his birth month, is a tender time.
In these days, I miss the joy and laughter of my grandchildren. For them Christmas is all joy. They are such a gift to me, and being separated from them by so many miles makes this a tender time.
My friend’s fourteen-year-old grandson lost his battle with cancer this week, and I cannot help thinking about what a dark and tender time this family is feeling because of this deep loss.
So many losses surround us. So much grieving. So much darkness waiting for the light of Bethlehem’s star and the infant that comes to bring light to our hearts.
I love this tiny prayer:
Lord, you have always lightened this darkness of mine;
and though night is here, today I believe.
— Evening Office by Northumbria Community