Advent begins in Darkness. I don’t know if this year is darker than other years. Certainly, if I look at the scope of human history, there have been much darker periods. Yet, there is so much gloom around the world, on every continent, in every nation, denomination; sometimes it seems as though that is true of each family. One location of that dark is in the losses we have seen and felt and held close to our heart.
A sense of loss always bring darkness to me. There are the Big Losses: people with whom we loved,lived and laughed, gone too soon. Or people moved away. Or people who once were so immediate, accessible and intuitive are now episodic, far away or another road altogether. There are losses of landmarks, now gone or changed into something unrecognizable–the churches, no longer part of my tribe; the schools morphed into a location or purpose unrecognizable, so that there is no touchstone for me to remember; an open space now covered over with places to park or shop. The darkness can cover me.
Yet as I ponder the participants in the stories we will be telling in these next four weeks, I recognize how many of them began in darkness: Mary and Joseph losing their stories as they had imagined them; the shepherds in the dark of night being confronted with mystery and glory, unlike business as usual; the wise ones far away from a dream, losing security and safety and familiar landmarks. Yet for each of them there was a Light that came to them in a way that gave them reason to keep going, despite the dark, despite the loss, despite the unknowing.
I am lighting the candle today, the first one of Advent, knowing full well the darkness of loss, knowing I have no sure idea of what is ahead or at the end of the road, but sure that there is the Light that the darkness of loss cannot put out. I light it in hope, in trust, and in love.