yesterday she could not stop crying. she cried for the unmarried, pregnant mother of the christ child, tears running down her cheeks through her church service. she cried knowing that her own children are cared for and healthy, secure in their homes and families. she again wept as she reflected on her family heritage, her parents, her sisters, those who have gone before her, those who are preparing to die even now. she sobbed with the understanding that she would not see her great grandchildren grow up.
as quickly as she cried, the laughter rose from her belly with the recognition that she didn’t remember buying gifts for her great grandchildren as we wrapped them. she laughed when she couldn’t find her coat. she laughed with glee and in anticipation of seeing her great granddaughters visit santa.
we left her apartment with the sun shining. by the time we crossed the river, the sky lowered and the rain wrapped itself around the city. we drove downtown, to the eighth floor of the parking structure. winding our way through the cars and people, mom on one arm, the blind husband on the other arm with his white cane and enormous umbrella. a glass elevator took us down to the second floor before returning to the eighth floor again, picking up more and more people. (yes, one must push the 1st floor button to get there)
meandering our way through the crowds, the man drumming plastic buckets, the kids smoking on the corner, the bell ringer, the little girls in sparkle dresses and lace tights, the boys in white cable-knit matching sweaters, we headed to *santa*. he was a pretty good one – a real beard, an actual twinkle in his eye and a good laugh. we waited patiently in line: the stroked great-grandma, the blind grandpa, the exhausted grandma, the overwhelmed mama, the happy dad and two little girls filled with awe and joy and anticipation, dressed in their bright red parisian dresses.
santa’s elves stopped the line, one kid in front of us, saying, “santa has to feed his reindeer.” no warning, no clue, no willingness to budge in her intent to get santa to the barn. the visit would happen later, without stroked GG, blind grandpa and exhausted grandma. *santa* always shows up, doesn’t he? in one way or another, christmas always arrives in fullness.
yesterday was the fourth sunday of advent. she is tender and her heart is open, softened in ways that i have never experienced as she searches for words, for meaning, for purpose in the christmas season, in her relationships, in her reason for living. she moves from emotion to emotion, often unaware of the subtle and not so subtle shifts.
we have spent four weeks creating and reading and listening to the sounds and sights and meaning of advent, the cycle that comes every year, yet new this year in a very sweet and different way.
she has been preparing in the only way she can – simply, with intention, with heart
she waits for the promise that she has known since childhood – the birth of the christ child
in the midst of darkness and rain, in confusion and hustle and bustle she holds onto hope
she longs for a place of refuge that she cannot provide for her own soul, a refuge that welcomes her home to herself.
and yet there are moments. where a child touches her. where she sees an image. where she hears a song. yesterday she said, “mary sang this song.” so she knows. deep within she knows.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior;
For He has regarded
the lowliness of His handmaiden.
For behold, from this day
all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things to me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy
as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.