I haven’t been on top of our Advent traditions or preparations this year, but despite the accidental neglect, Advent seems to have found me. It showed up in the pitch black of an early morning meditation. And again when I was folding laundry. And again at the grocery store. Each time it leaves me with a clear sentiment that keeps pawing at the door to be let out.
I’ve tried every day this week, but have repeatedly talked myself out of it. I’m having a hard time getting there. Mostly because it involves the words ‘vigil’ and ‘meditation’ and I’m just not sure how mystical you want your Friday night to be.
The watered down version is that some of us have lost beloved members of our tribe, and I want you to know that I’m still thinking of you.
Maybe we just sat in the same row in Mr. Dehorn’s english class, or we folded clothes together at Kohl’s, but there is a random rolodex of names and faces that have wedged themselves in my heart in a very powerful way.
Because you lost your brother, or your mom, or your grandparent, or a friend. Some of you didn’t lose someone physically, but because of an argument, or misunderstanding it feels like you did. And this is the second, or fifth, or eleventh holiday season without their fun loving wit, or hug, or thoughtful stocking stuffers. Or perhaps even their arguing or sarcasm or the drama they brought with them every year.
Your names keep surfacing in my thoughts and each time I’m hit with a shrill reminder that you lost your mother in law, or your brother. I don’t know your specific ache or sorrow, but I do know loss and I want you to know I haven’t forgotten about yours. I haven’t forgotten that this is still new, and that you’ll have to navigate a fragile situation when your kids ask where grandma is. I haven’t forgotten the joy your dad brought to everyones life, or the pain yours did.
and my heart breaks with you.
Not for you. With you.
At my best, I wake up before the sun rises so that I can meditate. Lately I’ve dedicated this time to you. So I can sit with you in whatever hurt might burden you. This is an ancient tradition called The Night Watch, or Vigils. This is what many of The Psalms touch on. It’s for waking up to sit in the dark mystery with purpose and hope, even for those things we cannot change. Like staying up late to sit next to someone’s hospital bed. It’s a deep longing to see light where it has gone dim, and for shouldering up to those who are suffering*.
Even though my grief and I seem to be on good terms, I am reminded of those of you whose sadness floats closer to the surface.
So for whatever reason I needed to get uncomfortably vulnerable and share my mystical morning routine with you. I needed to tell you that I’m praying for our holiday season and for whatever absence it forces us to confront. Grandparents, the most fun loving uncle, a miscarriage, a wild and precious friend.
I’m here for you, friends. I’m interceding on your behalf and sending every ounce of light your way. No matter what presence is missing this season, I fully believe there is beauty on the horizon and keeping vigil is about waiting for that. Advent is a season about waiting for that.
So I just wanted you to know,
*paraphrased/borrowed thoughts, Macrina Wiederkehr “Seven sacred pauses”
*The day after I wrote this Clay and I listened to this, and it weirdly hits a lot of the same notes. The fundamentalists podcast. Episode 37- there will be ghosts. Especially check them out if existential, and philosophical are buzzwords for you.