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It’s always darkest before the dawn

Advent fourth week

I love Advent and Christmas. Really I do. I wear a Santa hat, light the Advent wreath, deck the halls, and drink eggnog like it’s going out of style, but usually by this point I am in closer to a pit-of-despair feeling than I am to holly jolly.

And every year I forget that I felt the exact same way the year before. I can go back to posts from Advents gone by and see the same sorry attitude.

Don’t believe me? This is what I said about it last year:

I have to be honest with you. I have been basking in the darkness this week, and not necessarily in a good way. Okay, in a bad way. God and I really haven’t been on speaking terms lately, which wasn’t God’s idea but I’m still annoyed with Him over it. Yes, sometimes I treat God like a spouse, sibling, parent, child, depending on my mood. I get mad, I lash out, I talk too much, I don’t talk at all, I yell. I figure God can take it. Then I wait and wait and wait for God to come around and make me see the light. But this week that hasn’t been happening so much, and as we inch closer to Christmas I worry that everyone else will be singing Joy to the World while I’m still singing the spiritual blues. I keep waiting for a sign.

Yeah, fast forward to now and hit replay. That’s exactly where I’ve been lately. So this year I got to wondering about that, about my love-hate relationship with this season of joy.

I think maybe I need to pace myself. I jump into this season full force spiritually, thinking THIS is going to be the year I get it right. I’m going to be peaceful and prayerful and our home is going to be like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. And then I wake up to my own spiritual desert and the kids fighting and the work deadlines looming and, well, the slow decline begins. By the time the fourth Sunday of Advent rolls around and I’m looking back and realizing that none of the things I had hoped for became reality, I start to get a little down on the whole thing. In fact, just this weekend I declared to Dennis that next year we are just not doing Christmas. If the celebration of Jesus’ birth isn’t enough to snap us out of our complacency or our frustration or our anger or our disappointment, well, then I don’t know what will, and maybe we should just stop pretending it means something when clearly it doesn’t because if it did we would change.

That’s a pretty big demand to place on a holiday season — finally allowing Jesus to change us completely in just four weeks. No wonder I get depressed. But today, with Christmas just around the corner, I feel my spirits starting to lift. At Mass yesterday, a glimmer of light was trying to push its way into the dark corners of my soul and I felt a little bit of that Christmas joy stirring around somewhere in my heart. And so I’ll hold on and hope and wait these last two days for the Light that shines in the darkness, knowing that I can never find my way out of this pit on my own and maybe that’s the first step toward true joy.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

And all things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:1-5

 

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fr. Mike #

    You’re right, Mary, that the Light is coming. But, like every sunrise, it comes ever so gradually–especially in the process of penetrating our hearts (yeah, mine too!). Did you see the short Scripture reading at Evening Prayer today, from 2 Peter: “The Lord…shows you generous patience, since he wants none to perish….” He knows we’re not going to be perfected in 4 weeks (sigh…if only…). No, it takes a lifetime–and even then, isn’t most of the work his, not our own? But so long as we’re still striving to open our hearts to His light, we’re doing OK. Merry Christmas to all of you!

    December 23, 2013
  2. “That’s a pretty big demand to place on a holiday season — finally allowing Jesus to change us completely in just four weeks.”

    Amen to that succinct definition of unrealistic expectations. May the Light bathe you in warmth and peace this Christmas season, Mary.

    December 24, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thank you!

      December 30, 2013

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