This is my sixth holiday season without my husband at my side. His death in spring 2005 still rocks my recovering world especially in the holiday season. I can still replay our last Christmas together in my head. A new baby, our lovely 6 year old son and death loomed over our head. Dave’s diagnosis with stage four pancreas cancer had only come a few short months before in October. We were still in shock and still trying to comprehend. We were surrounded with support of our family, friends and faith community. There was light in the darkness, hope through our despair.
Advent has a way of pulling at me. Darkness, such deep seasonal darkness forces me to reflect on the darkness and despair I have walked through in the past few years. It also has such a strong force that makes me look at the light. The light always returns…how is that? Every fall, we walk into growing darkness and after sitting in the darkness for what seems like a lifetime…we are greeted by growing light and warmth. We all walk into despair and darkness in our lives. Advent gives us a moment to look at our growth or possibly lack of growth through these moments. It is this great moment where we are invited to still ourselves and look at our darkest moments with the light of hope growing and inviting us into warmth, growth and love.
This Advent, I can certainly see my family’s growth in this time of tragedy. My children are still growing of course. We have chosen to find joy in our lives again. It is definitely a conscience choice…time does not always heal. Holidays find so many of us blue and despairing, especially when times are tragic, but Advent reminds us that the light can grow. The seasons remind us that the light and warmth will grow with or without our consent. Our great Creator has built in this system, a cycle of hope for us to guide us through times of despair. It will always happen, God never gives up. Sometimes our loving God is just sitting in the darkness with us, still and present while building the light around us. Our Advent always culminates with the Light coming into our world. It is the gift that keeps on giving even when we feel weak and hopeless…the light will build. When we choose to turn toward the light, we open up a new time of love and growth that we may have never expected.