We've been having lovely October weather in Minnesota the last few weeks. It seems a little odd to be writing this on December 13th and looking out the window at green grass. I have always been a lover of winter. When we lived in Seattle in the early 1990's I missed the snow and cold of Minnesota. I have snowshoes hanging on my garage wall that seem to me to be pining for use. So I find myself in an odd place, looking at the forecast (which says it MIGHT get down to freezing on Monday -- what's with that??) and waiting for winter.
In ninth grade, my parents bought me a pair of cross-country skis. I spent that winter skiing across the pastures and fields through the long moonlit evenings. I learned to love the winter in a whole new way. That year and a few years following, we had great snow. I came to take it for granted. So many years lately snow has been hard to come by. So I enjoy the novelty of green grass in December, but I am still wishing, still waiting for snow.
Waiting. It's not a bad way to spend Advent. Waiting for winter. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for Jesus. The days get shorter, the nights get longer, and the world seems like a dim and dingy place. We wait for light. Add some cloudy days like we've had lately and the Seasonal Affective Disorder alone can send you over the edge. The world itself seems dark. We watch the news and hear about another bombing, another shooting, another riot, another earthquake, and we wait for light. We wait for hope.
That's Advent. It's supposed to be a time of waiting. Almost in defiance of the growing darkness, we string lights and greenery. We light candles. We wait.
Imagine for a moment what Advent would have been like before Thomas Edison placed artificial lights in our homes -- when a kerosene lantern or even a candle was all you had. Imagine living week after week without even light enough to read a book decently. You can see why storytelling became the activity of choice during these months. That's probably another reason why so many of our best loved stories are tales of waiting, of struggle, and of fighting through the forces of darkness. It resonates with our need this time of year. Not that the world is sweetness and light during the summer, but we feel the weight of the darkness so much during these Advent weeks.
We are waiting.
There's an openness, an innocence, to waiting. There's a gracious lack of control in waiting. Hope is the most fragile of things -- it can easily become cynicism or jaded bitterness. But when we allow ourselves to wait, hope springs up like a flower in the snow. Do we, in this day and age, dare to be open-hearted?
I don't know what you're waiting for this Advent. Hopefully something more than snow. I wish you blessings on the anticipation -- growth in the hopefulness -- joy in the discovery. May you be blessed in these days of waiting!