Walking Our Faith: How the light gets In
Walking Our Faith
It’s nearly 5 a.m. I’m curled up in my big chair in the living room. I’ve been knitting the bottom ribbing of what will eventually become a cardigan made of a deliciously soft alpaca-wool yarn in lavender.
It’s too early on the morning of Thanksgiving Day. I’ve been in this chair since 2 a.m., when I heard Mom coughing from a sip of water that went down the wrong way.
We talked for a little while. Mom was concerned that the bag of peeled garlic with its pungent odor would permeate the freshly baked pumpkin pie I’d placed on the refrigerator shelf below.
Eventually, I asked if she was ready to go back to sleep. She said “yes” but asked if I would stay. She didn’t want to be alone.
She’s sleeping now. An occasional soft snore escapes her lips. Here I sit, in a pool of light from the one lamp burning, the gas fire throwing off warmth.
Outside, night still holds sway, the darkness so complete it pervades even the space within this apartment except for this pool where I sit writing.
Isn’t this an apt metaphor for the start of Advent, a season which begins in deepest dark of winter and is celebrated on the day after the shortest and darkest day of the year — the day when we turn the corner and begin the slow journey toward the light-filled days of summer with perhaps one minute more of daylight.
I used to wonder why we observed Advent every year. We know the well-trod journey which leads to the baby Jesus born in a manger. God became man. These weeks of Advent filled with reverent anticipation within the church are a somber contrast to the rollicking festivities outside.
But still, isn’t every Advent essentially the same? We know the story. We’ve memorized the carols, unboxed the same ornaments we’ve hung on the tree for years. We’ll join the parade down Main Street — first the dog parade followed by the running of the Santas and ending with the lighting of the Christmas tree. Each familiar event brings comfort to our days and solace to our nights.
I sit in the predawn hours watching my mother sleep on the couch across from me, and I understand that Advent doesn’t change, but we do.
I moved to Breckenridge alone and have celebrated the past six Thanksgivings alone or as the guest of friends. This year, I cooked, and seated at my table was my mother, my international student, back from her first day of snowboarding, and four dear friends.
Over the course of seven years, I’ve gone from being the one who needed some extra care during a particularly bad bout of depression to being the caregiver.
The familiar traditions of Advent don’t change, but they invite us to experience the journey from darkness into light in new ways as we age — as our age calls us to take on new responsibilities or relinquish them to others.
As these changes hearken to our mortality, we see the world and our place in it differently. The far horizon is closer now, and we are called to assess our walk of faith anew.
God does not change, nor does his love for us. But we experience it differently this time than last because we have changed.
Let’s pay attention. Let’s walk through the coming weeks of Advent looking for signs of God calling to us. How do we experience God’s love in our lives and how can we share God’s love with others? Let’s notice the dawning of the sliver of light in the darkness.
Another year has worn the hard edges of relationships or seen relationships end or caused us to question where we live or how we make our living. The only certainty is that next year will be different again. Yet, Advent and the promise it contains remains reassuringly constant even as our lives change.
If God’s love is a stalwart beacon, and we the hapless boat upon the waves of time, this season beckons us to approach it with spiritual curiosity and the possibility of renewal.
Over the coming weeks, let’s talk about what it means to walk from darkness toward the light and how we can help ourselves and others as we navigate this journey.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.“
— Leonard Cohen, Anthem
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.