Yesterday, I mused on the tenderness of this season of Advent. The waiting. The darkness. The need to linger in the season with a sense of mindfulness.
To be honest, I want to shop with reckless abandon and find fun toys for my grandchildren. I want to bake all manner of Christmas cookie. I want to decorate every corner of my house, and if I had my way, ours would be one of those houses that people drive by at night to see all the twinkling lights.
But on that outdoor winter wonderland, I definitely do not have my way. My husband’s days of hanging lights on the gutters, placing a Santa on the roof, and wrapping the trees in tiny, twinkling lights are over. He has happily passed out of that season of his life.
For me, yesterday was baking day, and I made a new discovery about mindfulness and cookie baking. The two activities pair well. Dropping cookie dough by the spoonful onto a baking sheet is slow work. It gives one time to ponder. And pondering a is a good thing to do in Advent days. Good lesson learned, with the added bonus of having 200 cookies in the house!
While dropping cookies, one by one onto an old, scratched up baking pan, I pondered. Some thoughts hinted at my inner sadness. Other thoughts were of friends who are very ill and are walking this Advent journey in darkness. Other friends have lost people in their lives, and on this day, they find themselves in mourning.
As I do in most Decembers, I find myself, along with others in my family, feeling the sadness of having lost my youngest brother, Pete, to cancer. It happened many years ago, yet the hurt remains.
No doubt, this Advent journey can be a tender time. Yet we journey into the days ahead, not with a spirit of despair, but with a glimmer of hope. Even in the darkness, we begin to awaken, knowing that something new will be born in us just as it has every Advent. This is the season when we wash our faces and rub our sleepy eyes until we wake up, eyes wide open to the Light that sleeps in a manger.
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
— Luke 2:19 New International Version (NIV)
Like her, I am spending my Advent days pondering — moving in mindfulness while holding tender feelings, heart longings, mourning in the soul.
And, of course, I’m waiting in the darkness. But I know, without a doubt, that light will shine. It always does.