Advent Honesty: I Wasn't Thankful When I Woke, But...

copyright Amy Aves Challenger

I wasn't thankful when I woke up. I thought of every little thing that I haven't done, of the people I can't please, of the novel I haven't finished writing, of the presents I haven't had time to even imagine, of the cards I'll never write, of the advent calendar I can't find in the basement, of my sick friend whom I wish I could hug, of my kids struggling with things I can't fix.

Then, I looked out my window. I breathed. And for a second, I saw it. Even the birds saw it, I thought. They were silent, savoring the sound of a light wind, the feel of a confident resting frost. The cool blue spread of our little lake lay down; the rust-colored cattails swept upward; the sage-green frosted field swallowed the sky and even me, sliding us into an arc, a streamline of winter advent.

I had found the window of the morning. It set hope in, like hands in a dollhouse. Christmas cheer was placed inside my little Swiss expat middle-aged advent day, opening my clumsy step forward, moving me closer to a silent night.

Out there, in the hills, it seems every day I'm offered more than a number or a Swiss chocolate on a calendar. I get light and birds, wind and hillsides, fields and farms, a school, a country, a planet. Every time I wake ungrateful, well the morning is stubborn, giving me another window into a day. Look, I am alive. Look, I have children. Look, I can see the peak of that hill dusted in snow, I can hear my daughter singing in her bedroom, I can hold the warmth of the pillow where my husband slept.

Morning reminds me that Christmas lists have no urgency on a horizon, that my worry, my pressure makes no difference to the wide strokes of pink sky... that loss and disappointment and heartache still lead to the sun climbing over the backs of foothills, scattering brass bands of light, signaling rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.

Morning pokes me, pushes me, begs me to a constant come all ye faithful whisper. It chooses the mother with too little, the one with too much, the unpopular child, the alcoholic. Morning makes the beggar rich, the bitter man beautiful. It blinds anger, softens edges, encircles the fatigued human in an undiscriminating, unbiased halo. Morning rises about our little teeny, tiny lives, counting presents in miniscule breaths, in the geese pointing home, in the sick child’s eyes opening at last, in the mother given another day of life with her husband, her children, her dog.

Morning gives. It feeds. It adorns us with our own history, lets the details we don’t need any longer fall under the leaves, the rain, the snow, the sunlight. It gives and gives and gives a way to anything new. New love. New perspectives, new friendship, new ways of noticing one another, of caring for everything glorious out a window, of celebrating birth, of recognizing that another door has come, has opened.

Rejoice, rejoice.

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