Living Means Waiting: On a Dress and a Candle
Though you’ll read this days later, I write present tense to tell you what I hear. Right now the coffee shop is nailing it with a groove that doesn’t sucker me into singing. Thom Yorke sings, but I don’t know this one, which is perfect. I’m bad about public singing, and it never helps the writing. After all, I am here to write, to type and rock my head a little.
When I finished my manuscript, I wondered if I would write again. After I took a break, I came back online with excitement, but every time I sat down for words, I got weird and started singing or something. I am overwhelmed recently to become a painter, also. This distracts me.
So let’s start small, with this day, and I’ll work my way back to some stories. First thing, Ian woke me at 3:30 AM with a bad dream, and then we snuggled until I came here to one of my favorite spots in Fayetteville. On Township is a hill, and as you peak for the break-ride down, you can see the Ozarks layered in fading morning greys. Ah! Good morning! They greeted me, topped with a red line of sun that drifted up like tilted wet watercolor, softest pink into summer blue. It will be 60 degrees this January day. It makes my skin smile.
I’ll wear a dress today. A dear friend is getting married, and Seth will play guitar. I don’t feel bad in the least to think the sun shines for our friend. We will dress in celebration of their love, and it seems the sky got dressed as well.
Beauty points to God every time, and when we dress up, I think we can say ” yes, we celebrate You and see Your gifts and we are lilies and You are sun.”
When the Markleys came at the beginning of December, we put on fancy clothes for a gala. We listened to Bruno Mars and wobbled a great big car back and forth from all the swagger.
We started the season with friends and so much laughter that we ached once we were alone. Then we settled into a diligent Advent routine, marked by its waiting. We read the daily office that centered its scriptures around the coming Messiah. We waited to celebrate His coming as God with Us, the child Emmanuel, and we waited even more so for His second coming as Redeemer King and Maker of All Things New.
We invited friends to join us at a local church building every Sunday night. Everyone brought food to share, but first we said aloud our Apostle’s Creed, we lit the candles on the Advent wreath, and we circled in small huddles for the prayers of the people. Our evening prayer service was beautiful and centered on the communion table. The scriptures we read were to lead us there.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we asked those joining us who would want to do the readings. It was so precious that the two volunteers we had were children. The night’s verses were intense, but to hear them from the unchanged voices of little boys was an added element of sacredness, to think of the strong and pure proclamations they made about Christ.
Our Isaac happened to get a reading from Isaiah 64 which states that our good works are as filthy rags – only the version we accidentally printed was the one that says a little something different. Isaac plugged along so well, “We have all become like the unclean; all our righteous deeds are like … ” but when he lifted one eyebrow and stumbled across the words “menstrual rags,” every grownup in the room went wide-saucer eyed. We had to hold our breaths to keep from laughing!
That night, even fifteen minutes after going to bed, I heard him giggle and say, “I can’t believe I stumbled on MENSTRUAL!” When you can laugh with your son about such things, then you know he is becoming a man – and one who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
It was a glorious start to a month of meeting with new friends as well as friends we’ve missed for a long time. The practice of waiting and quietly asking He come to us was healing and hope-inducing, and more than that was the healing of the communion table.
Then we travelled to spend time with what felt like 12 sides of the family. Families can be this way. They can grow sides and leave you wondering what side you’re on. This is the season I finally see my own little family unit as solidly my own. Everything else became an extension.
When we finally got to Christmas day, we had travelled far, and the time never came during the day for us to light that final candle, the one we had been waiting to light, the one that said Christ was born. Late that night, I had opened my big mouth and argued with a family member before I stomped to the wreath we had packed and ripped that Jesus candle right out of the center. I took it to my room, and I lit it while mad as a hornet.
Isn’t that how it goes? If anything shows us our need for Christ, it’s our families and all the sides of things. All these metaphors surrounding us, the candles and the slant light, the table and the dark winter night, it’s all there to point to Him and our great need.
And so I am still waiting. In a sense I feel the year ran off without me. In a sense I think watercolors could tell my life better than all this, but the pages of my journal are filled with cursive. You’ll read this days after I wrote it. Some of these words were written two weeks ago.
What I am saying is this. I have been living hard and well, and I have been weighing words on the page. I want to scan for beauty like one appropriating hope. I won’t say here why my hope is hard. You know you’re own reason, but living means waiting, doesn’t it? Hope is the whole thing.
Today I’ll see a white wedding gown on a gorgeous bride, and I’ll see a man call her beloved. He’ll kiss her. Keep the candles burning. It’s a lily of a day. Kingdom come.
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