Last night, the only conversation was about the storm. The number of inches of snow, the treacherous driving, the interruptions being made to our “very important schedules” and the inconvenience that the storm we had been hearing about for days was making in each of our lives.
Since it takes me about three minutes to get home, I stayed with the children whose parent’s lives were being ravaged by the traffic that kept them stuck where they didn’t want to be. Three of us sat together and peered out the big glass windows and began to weave the tale from inside the snow globe we imagined we were in as we watched the snow pelt down and we all wondered if a “SNOW DAY” was ahead of us.
Today, in the piercing sun of an exceptional crisp winter Michigan day — the kind where the snow and the blue light of sky seem to meld into a Norman Rockwell view of the definition of December. With twinkling lights behind me and expansive rolling hills of snow out the same window where we created the snow globe story, I watched four deer frolic in the snow as though nothing could be closer to heaven than snow to adorn your antlers.
From problem to grace. Beneath the frozen ground, I know what is happening. My father described it every year as he dug up the “children” of his retirement — the hybrid roses –whose tender spring grafts would be nourished into wholeness by the frozen ground. He dug each one up as if it was his own creation while reminding me that he was just the gardener who tended to the vulnerable that it might grow strong with thorns and whole with color. Then, a same-sized plot was dug as he buried each in a vault of leaves that had been chosen for the occasion, like a shroud expecting resurrection.
“The rose,” he would pronounce with authority, “depends on the frozen ground above it to protect it so that the vulnerable wound becomes the rose.” At the moment, I was more focused on the number of rose ditches that I needed to dig, rather than the teaching that awakens Advent in me.
Grace springs from the vulnerable and strengthens it into fierce beauty. Not the beauty of spring seedlings, but the beauty seasoned by waiting for the long winter to nourish and to reveal the change — not the repeat of what has been, but the revelation of what is in process. Advent is the time of celebrating from problem to grace. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem amidst the fallow time of problems, pain and discomfort — where even though more pain is possible…there is a new rose that arises from the grafted stem.
It is Advent love; where mistletoe unites and music softens the heart
It is Advent love; where for a moment television commercials speak of kindness rather than campaign resolutions never to be fulfilled
It is Advent love; where ornaments on trees that have no purpose make us feel a homecoming to our own being that makes it feel like all might be right with the world
It is Advent love; where we dare to think of others first and realize that nothing else really matters
It is Advent love; where we choose to follow the light through the darkness because we know that inside of each of us is a manger awaiting new life
It is Advent love; where we decide — just for today — to be real and turn off the device and bake cookies that take time and forget to answer the text
It is Advent love; where we just do today — take the next step on the road to Bethlehem because the star is there, and everything else will follow.
It is Advent love.