One of the deep girly desires of my daughter’s heart is to have a very very large hair bow. She would like this bow worn prominently on the top of her head, the farther forward and the bigger the better.
This hair bow desire came upon her when she made a new friend in Sunday School. I don’t know if the friendship was begun by her desire to get to know this glorious girl with her glorious bow or if the bow-love came because of her care for her friend. At this point the friend and hair bow are so Intrinsically linked that there’s no separating the two in my daughter’s mind.
On this past Sunday, the first of Advent, the wonderful girl with prominent hair bow (in Christmas colors and prominently displayed) joined her family in stage to light the first candle and offer the reading. It was this girl’s role to light the candle while the rest of her family read the scripture’s for meditation.
There’s something very special about joining the people you know and that your family does life with in seeing God in a different light. In being intentional in incorporating all of the different images, sights and sounds of worship during this season.
It brings about a different kind of reflection. You notice different things. You’re aware of the nuances around you with keener insight and heightened senses.
You see things differently at this time of year.
You experience things differently at this time of year.
And it’s a mixture. A mixture of joy and poignancy and loss and hope. Where, if you are willing, a depth of reflection is available to you if you are willing to go there.
It’s been a season of ups and downs for me and there are times when I’m willing to sit in that movement of mood and there are times when I’m just not able or willing to experience some of the emotions that require pain in me. Because there is grief in the season. Grief for those who are no longer with me. Uncertainty about the future. Frustration with aspects of the present and old dull wounds from the past.
There are times of lying in the darkness in the bed with legs that are too hot and shoulders that are too cold and feeling that there are extremes in life. Heat of hope and coldness of wariness. That uncomfortable juxtaposition of pinpoint joy and swift tears.
Reflection is not always easy or comfortable or even-tempered.
On the first Advent Sunday morning all of those were contained within me, and I wondered as I looked around how many of those states of being were contained within those around me.
And it was the Sunday of Hope.
Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction (Isaiah 42:1-4, NLT)
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
As I stared at the flickering candle lit by the little hand attached to the spectacular hair bow I waited in tension to see if the breath of the one who lit it would inadvertently snuff it out. This small flame that struggled and flickered but did not go out.
I feel like that. In this time of waiting and uncertainty I feel like a flickering candle, still going but not always certain. And hope is hard in these times when I’m not sure what calling and future and work hold for me.
The hope came with the promise that he will not crush the weakest or snuff the flickering.
The clanging resonance in my heart that he sees my struggle and he holds my weakness and uncertainty. Shielding me and protecting me.
The weak and weary world is why he came. To seek and save the lost, to comfort those who mourn, to heal the sick in body and soul.
The hope comes from the why he came.
That when I falter or lose heart he doesn’t. And he never will.
In gentleness and strength he came and will come. And that’s the hope I’m clinging to.