Advent hangs over me thick this year - like a bulky, itchy cloak when you're 9 months pregnant and can't get comfortable and feeling like I've been riding this donkey for-freaking-ever.
I think I get it a little more this year - how Mary might of felt, what advent means. How it's not a celebration as much as it is a Waiting. A hopeful waiting to be sure, waiting for a son. But we both wait in uncertainty, which makes the uncomfortable and scary hide the hope sometimes. I wait in the uncertainty of when, and how big and what are his needs. She waited in the uncertainty of when and where and what will all of this mean, and I better not have been dreaming that Angel Thing.
But we both wait for the Promise. Of a son.
Finally, for Mary, it happened. And as blood soaked the hay and she felt her stretched-out skin settle back into place while shepherds crowded her desire for modesty, I wonder if she thought: Is THIS what I've been waiting for?
And when He said to her, this son whom she birthed and nursed, "Woman what does this have to do with me?" did she wonder with indignance - Is THIS what I waited for?
And when she heard with horror of His arrest, did her wonder turn to anger? Did she shout at the God who moved over her in conception that this is NOT what I've been waiting for!
And when she went to visit the tomb, feeling mournful, lost, hopeful, crazy, and heartbroken - what was she waiting for then?
How many years went by after she buried her Son? How many years more did she have to wait before her own death could finally bring her answers....
....and open arms
and a mansion
and a warm embrace that would know no end
and golden streets
and vanquished enemies
and an end to oppression
and a faithful son's promise that "Mama - THIS is what you've been waiting for"
This Advent, I don't celebrate the past as much as I accept the invitation God has given me to know what it's like to wait for a son. This son I don't look to as my Savior - I won't put that kind of pressure on him - but I can identify with another woman and a nation's long, arduous, mostly hopeful and but too-often hopeless Wait.
There's sadness in waiting because it's a constant reminder that what you're hoping for isn't here... yet. But there's hope too, and that's where my celebration rests.