Three years ago, somewhere between the candle of hope and the candle of peace, the year I decided to blog my way through advent, my grandfather died. I remember so clearly how the grief mixed with the cheer, how the ashes mixed with the tinsel, and I remember what my friend told me as she was leaving my house and I was packing to go be with my grandmother.
“I hope you have time to grieve.”
With babies and finals and Christian finishing papers that year, there wasn’t a lot of space for me to grieve. My kids aren’t in diapers and my husband has only the dissertation deadlines and still I am longing for space to grieve in my life.
Thursday on my way from one appointment to the next I ran into the coffee shop to grab a bagel. One of my pastors was sitting at a table. He asked me how I was and he meant it. I immediately started crying.
How am I? I am tired. I am sad. I am confused. I am waiting.
I was angry the first two days of advent, just weirdly irrationally angry. I couldn’t quite figure out why, and then it hit me. The waiting.
I don’t know that I need to make space for the waiting, I am already right in the middle of it. I am waiting to finish my last year of teaching, I am waiting to see where we might be living next year, I am waiting for long held hard worked for dreams. I am waiting.
But also, I am not. I am running. I am doing. I am trying. But I am not really leaning into the waiting. I have sort of been avoiding it, like the mess in the back seat of my car. I mean, I know it is there but I don’t really deal with it. I guess I am hoping that the waiting will also take care of itself.
The waiting is such a strange mix, of grieving what will be or is no longer, the hope that something better will come, the realization that the future may not look like I imagine, the fear.
With kids and work and commuting, with dinner on the table and laundry to fold, with papers to grade and students to cajole into doing their make up work, who has time for grieving? Who has time to wait?
Why would I sit in silence when I could endlessly google possible houses in every city we have ever thought about living in?
Because I need it, this waiting, this grieving, this longing. Because the only way to not let the darkness over take you is to sit with it. Listen to it. I need the silence because the shouting I have tried isn’t working. I need to grieve so that I can make room for the joy.
I need to light the candle in the darkness, so I can see for myself how much real hope can really fill up a room if I let it.
I don’t want advent this year, I am already tired, and weary, and waiting. I don’t want advent, but I desperately need it. So I lock myself in my car during lunch, read the scriptures and breathe. I light the candle after bedtime and think about the promises in the kids book we read, how God is with you and you don’t have to be afraid are true for me too. I breathe slowly, I cry quietly, and I make room in my life for the waiting, five minutes at a time.