Needing the sun

I love my community and usually wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world – except that between November and February, it is so grey, damp and dreary here.

We react physically in our family and we tend to end up under a dark cloud emotionally too. If hibernation was an option, we’d climb into a blanket cave and come out when the sun is back in the sky. That’s not an option sadly, and so we muddle through.

This year we bought a special “happy light” – one that mimics the sun and is supposed to help our bodies get through when we are stuck in the darkness. The light is designed to be like a burst of sun – and to restore us physically, combat seasonal depression and give us physical energy. It’s a lot to expect from a little light!

There was a lovely, unmistakable juxtaposition tonight between our lit Advent wreath and our “happy light” shining on the table.

Jesus comes to be light in the midst of the worst of the world’s darkness. To restore us, give us life and meet our needs. My word, do I ever need a burst of the son this year.

Ready or not…

I always have big plans for the start of the Christmas season – despite all logic and evidence to the contrary, I somehow expect at this busy time of the year, to be more organized, more energized and totally on top of the kinds of details that typically escape me. Suddenly, because Christmas is coming we should have a cleaner house, a more organized schedule, and clothes that match – and be in a festive happy mood to boot!

As you can imagine, it never works out quite the way I plan. Despite all my best intentions, our house is still crazy, our schedules still keep us running at full speed and we couldn’t coordinate unified family Christmas outfits if we wanted to (which most of us don’t!). And, amidst all the hallmark movie expectations of holiday happiness, I grow frustrated, weary and disheartened at the very time I most want to be joyful, inspired and excited.

Advent started today… and this is often where my own unmet/unrealistic expectations and the frustrations of the season have their annual awkward first date. Ironically, its the very themes of advent – hope, peace, love and joy – that I tend to lose. So, I’m done trying to make our advent, and our Christmas season anything different than it is. Us. Just as we are. Not waiting for things to be perfect, or exactly right, or Hallmark worthy. Just the real us, celebrating in the midst our real life reality, with our real budgets, schedules, and limitations.

For the record, my house isn’t Christmas ready – and neither is my heart. That’s why I need a real advent season to prepare my heart for what’s to come.

Ready or not, advent is here – and we DO have much to celebrate. So, tonight, the advent wreath is out, and the two of us that were home lit the candle of hope. Our imperfectly beautiful advent has begun.