Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Light in the Darkness

I came home mid-afternoon last week hoping to rest and lie down before evening vespers. I didn’t feel quite right and soon it was clear that I wouldn’t be preaching, let alone driving to church. A stomach virus held me captive and it was days before I could open my eyes and peel myself away from my trusty puke pot.

There’s nothing fun about being sick, especially when it wipes out all your energy and clears your calendar. Just calling in sick took strength I didn’t have and I spent most of my time in the silent living room. My big event each evening was trying to get vertical at dusk to turn on the porch light for Matt. The sound of television commercials and the sight of a computer screen made my stomach churn, so I sank into the darkness of Advent and drifted between sleep and wake.

So much for keeping watch during the season of anticipation and waiting! I was less concerned about the time lost for shopping and finding a Christmas tree. I didn’t miss the advertisements and the snowy roads. But I did miss two worship services during my favorite season and the hymns that fill these dark days of beginning. I missed two opportunities to dress in the beautiful stole my brothers bought me, a sign of winters together as goofy siblings.

So I would snuggle deeply into my blankets and remember all the times I came back to Normandale for Advent Vespers during college. Gabe and Bror would flank either side of me like unsteady pillars and try to make me laugh and snort while they sang in falsettos and character voices. They would lean over and point to the words in my hymnal like the bouncing Disney ball, patronizing me. They would rub my back and cuddle awkwardly in the pews until I couldn’t ignore them anymore. Their antics were incredibly subtle, but fail proof. Tears would form in my eyes from holding in the Advent joy and I’d elbow their sides like a good older sister.

Advent reminds me of those winter days and coming home to a place where the songful evening prayer promises something grand to come. Even in sickness and darkness, we have that promise.

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