21 December 2013

The house is empty without you

It is the darkest day of the year. It was made darker and drearier by the rain that fell most of the day. I understand that friends and family back in Ontario and Michigan are being subjected to ice-storms, so the dark weather is hardly limited to this side of the ocean.

Our advent star is hanging - Matthijs graciously hung it before he left. The star brings a cheerful light in the midst of the darkness, more so as the star is red, bringing a different kind of red light into this neighbourhood.

Yet, even the brightness of the star does not push away all the darkness. Matthijs left yesterday to go to a funeral of an old friend from university. I questioned if it was wise for him to go - life has been extra full for both of us these past few weeks and we are organizing Christmas within the community. Wouldn't it be too much to make an unexpected trip now to the other side of Germany? When I voiced my concerns to Matthijs, his answer was simple: if he could go, why wouldn't he? He was there for their wedding; it was good for hiim to return for the tragic death of a friend. We are both thankful that he went, but the house is empty without him.

The darkness of my empty house is only a shadow of the darkness felt by those suffering in this time, whatever the reason: mourning the loss of loved ones, struggling with debt, living homeless and/or countryless, experiencing loneliness. How then can it feel like Christmas? The time of Advent - a time of waiting and longing - gives at least a partial answer to that. Isaiah 9:2 says "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." In Advent, we remember that Christ has not yet come. And the darkness is darkest just before dawn.

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