Melody Hanson is an artist who reflects on life with a beautiful blend of poetry, prose, and photography. We were part of the same church community for many years, and I am so glad to host her here today.
Most of my life, I have been waiting for God. It’s a spiritual waiting
for miracles. Waiting
for answers. Waiting
for healing in me and in others that I love or have loved. Waiting
to feel mercy. Waiting
Waiting for the Holy. And honestly, it’s no good for I am so often unfaithful, daily, profoundly ungrateful, spiritually tepid, and living a halfhearted, broken fear filled life.
And no matter how much I have learned, the spiritual lessons hard earned, it seems to come down to my learning, over and over again. A training of the heart, where I am bent and broken, toward healing and joy.
Advent (and perhaps all of the spiritual life) is about our
Still, in some ways I cannot hold on to the babe, the Christ Child, no matter how much I want to.
I remember nothing about Advent growing up, not even lighting the purple and white candles on Sundays.
Though our church tradition celebrated these things, very little of it sunk in. All too soon Christmas became about the fun of buying, giving, and consuming, even in our Christian home. For this missionary kid who started her life overseas, who “shopped” the missionary barrel for school clothes, and grew up wearing all hand me downs, perhaps especially because of these realities, Christmas was about me getting new stuff of my own.
At this point in my life that no longer works for me. Though I love to give gifts to others, including this time of year, that idea lacks true meaning for me.
Although Christmas has come to mean gift giving, the word Advent means coming! And it comes down to opening my heart to what God is doing already, slowing down enough to anticipate and receive him – the child, a fleshy squalling, human baby who grew up to become our Savior and King.
Henri Nouwen said, "I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving powers. Our temptation is to be distracted by them. When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence ... I will always remain tempted to despair."1
Most of my life, I’ve been waiting in despair, filled with longing for something other than here and now. I have been blind to the signs all around me. All too often I am weary for miracles when so much of the miracle is simply and profoundly the gift of Christ, who died to save us, who is our King.
For me Advent isn’t about answers, it is mostly about waiting.
And in my waiting I am bent, leaning toward God, listening for whispers of hope. Inclined in, oriented toward and filled with longing for the Holy One who comes. Oh, he comes!
For me Advent is an awareness of my need, over and over again
for the babe,
for the King.
In her beautiful little book on advent, Enuma Okoro says, “we have to train ourselves to become the type of earthly vessels that can endure the challenging joy of waiting on God …”
This Advent, I will again wait; purposefully and joyfully needing, anxiously wanting to hear and see a miracle, and resolutely longing for the One who is always with us. That is the miracle of Advent and the wonder of every day.
Knowing God and waiting for the Holy.
1 Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen, Gracias! A Latin American Journal (1983) 2 Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, Upper Room Books (2012)
About Today's Guest Blogger: Melody Harrison Hanson
One day at a time, one word at a time – the contemplations of a missionary kid who lost my childhood faith, found my way back through leaving full-time ministry, accepting motherhood, finding feminism, facing alcoholism, healing slowly from depression, accepting myself and discovering in my mid-forties the Grace of Jesus. I live to write another day and to use my power for good. I am a questioner who works hard to trust God and others. Letting go and trusting my own story has become what I write about, along with processing an abusive childhood, recovery from alcohol addiction. Threaded through out are my experiences as a mother of four (three biological children and my step-daughter who calls me, her "other Mom".) I am married to a Music Man, who has made a very successful career in business and this makes it possible for me to heal and be – to be a writer, mother, and photographer. His music is here – do listen. Life humbles me and I write with full recognition that I do not deserve my charmed life. I have a quiet, contemplative blog with poetry, images and essays. I am a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. I have an essay published in the book Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression, poetry in the forthcoming book Not Afraid, and an essay in the book Finding Church, all with Civitas Press. I blog at Logic and Imagination and tweet at @melodyhhanson.
Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.