I’m listening to Black Nag, played by Vaughn Williams. The lights are low. The fire is burning for the first time this year in the next room. Come sit with me a while? Sip the peppermint tea?
During evening prayers, I was staring hard into the Advent wreath, watching the flame flicker across and back, playing off the potpourri below. Two candles in the dark.
I can tell you much about darkness. I’ve lived in shadowy places too long to not forget. But it’s the Light that I am seeing anew. Advent, despite a tumultuous childhood and a half dozen military moves, always stayed the same. I’ve come to realize why Christmas and the Advent season mean so much to me in adulthood- it was one of few real, true constants. The world could upend itself all year long, and even if my family was fractured and my father on the other side of the world- there was still Advent. Still the slow lighting of the candles. The scriptures. The prayers. The quiet songs. The Story, told again. For a family that traded friendships and fellowship almost yearly, it’s nothing short of amazing, really, that we somehow always took the time out to celebrate each night we could. A testimony to my mother.
And here is the True Thing. Life’s still fractured. The world is still upended. But there was a baby, and a mama, and a daddy, and a God that loved us so much, He couldn’t let us go into the dark and the deep. And so, in the darkest of the year, when the moon and shadows dance, and the cold speaks death, and what good could come of this? There is an Answer that whispers back- Life. Life abundant. A baby cries as the fractured world turns, and we can barely hear that our redemption draws nigh. But we light the candles, and we quiet ourselves, and in the hush, we hear. We speak it aloud, deep into our hearts, from cochlear to arterial- Truth.
Hear King David speak?
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
David’s heart, skin, ripped off, across the page. He understood what it was to live in darkness. But he walked in the Light.
So I heed. The prophet Isaiah whispers back:
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
The world spins, fractured. But I know, as I gaze long into the flickering candlelight and into your eyes, dear friend- Love has come. And in His love and time, the fractured will turn mosaic beautiful to behold, because the Artist was at work.
It’s here. The Story is being told. Lean in and listen, and hear the wondrous works of the Lord.