Advent Day 14: Pajama Movie Night, Waiting out the Darkness

Tonight I made a big bowl of kettle corn and two mugs of hot chocolate with two big marshmallows each, started the first fire of the year in the fireplace, and piled onto the couch with my three beautiful, marvelous, remarkable children who know nothing of senseless rage unloaded onto the spirits of their peers, to watch The Lorax, who speaks for the trees.  The kids got up off the couch to dance when music came on, and then the trees, well, they grew from their tiny seeds into truffula saplings, hundreds of them with soft, pink tufts, blossoming happily ever afters to the tune of “Let It Grow.”

Earlier in the movie, though, the Onesler cut down the trees, at first with an ax and then his brothers zoomed through the forest with their cutting-down machine, and one by one the truffula trees fell until the hills were dark and empty.  The Lorax could only speak for the trees and grieve.  And grieve.  And grieve. 

So helpless. 

“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Rom 8:26)

We are seven days away from the turning of the solstice, seven days left of this gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of light.  And then four days later we remember and celebrate the birth of the Light of the world, the Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty One, the Lamb of God.  Right now, we wait and wait and wait. 

Words feel so weak and weightless in the presence of darkness, and yet the same Light, Shepherd, Prince, Lord, Lamb, God also called himself the Word.  Truth.  Good news.  He delivered to us his word, gifted us his spirit, and the fruit of his spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  These are not the fruits of the enemy (and darkness and evil are the enemy) who robs us of joy and pours out terror and grief, who lacks all control, who is violent, who takes matters into his own hands, wields his power over the helpless and tries to evade justice.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Come, O come, Immanuel.  Be with us.  Come, God of Light and Life and Truth, and speak.

Reposting — because I so badly want the darkness to pass away.

“Advent: The First Candle”

In November, our lips trembled
with the breath of winter etched
in frost across the windows.
We gazed at dawn’s arrival
casting bands of icy glitter
on brass and copper oak leaves
holding tight to frozen branches,
as if they could stop the turn
of seasons, suspend the spin
of Earth around the sun, but
nothing can slow this orbit
toward the solstice. Oh, Christ,

the prophets spoke about a day
when darkness would pass away.

Shadows broaden, days shorten.
We’ve waited the way I watched
my garden for the reddening
of tomatoes, the fleshing out
of vegetables, how I’ve held
my swollen abdomen, the fullness
of time a season, a month a week
a day an hour away. Now,

we unravel pine swag garland
and drape it on the mantle, melt
a candle, send a signal in a flaming
flicker, hope hot enough to kill
the darkness
. Here comes the turning
of the solstice, here comes the night,
the star, and then the etching
of a few more minutes to stand
in the slow burn of frost,
the gradual stretching of the light.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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