Who the hell am I anymore? My thoughts marinating on the fact that this year has led me to a new land, a new space and time. I’m not questioning my identity per say. But just… I’m so quiet.
If you know me, you’re calling out Bull Shit right now because we all know that I was born a chatterbox and I will DIE a chatterbox, amen? But I’m talking about a different kind of quiet. It’s a weird quiet. A withdrawn quiet. Sometimes I’m so fully engaged. But mostly, the safest spots these days, the spots I pick to spend my time are often with just myself.
I observe. My natural state is somewhere distant…. Like I’m standing. Just standing. In the middle of a road. Staring. At the aftermath. Just staring at the wreckage, wondering how to rebuild.
I shared this with a friend, going through her very own hard, and she replied:
I do exactly feel like I am standing in the road... Just looking around at all the wreckage. Not sure where to start. Not sure what to make for dinner. Not sure what to wear. Not sure who all these people are. Just... staring. Exactly.
So. I'll hold your hand. And I'll pray. That's what I've got.
DO NOT BE AFRAID.
That’s what angels always say. Always, right?
They show up all shiney and proclaim: HOLD UP! DO NOT RUN!
As a kid, I thought they must have said this because angels were bright shining lights, weren’t they? But angels in my life have actually NEVER shown up in a blinding light. Angels have always shown up so quietly. They show up in that sacred quiet of life.
Shabbat refers to that sacred quiet, that scared pause that happens in life. I heard that once in a sermon and it stuck with me like a child’s chomped gum stuck in hair. That SOMETIMES life is so hard and painful, there are no words and the ONLY thing you can do is PAUSE that sacred pause with someone.
I've always heard shepherds referenced to as a collective group. That they were THOSE people, you know, the LOWLY. The ones not thought of much and how God cared about them, THEY were THOSE people who God told first. And so I always thought the shepherds meant to me that even when I feel like God can’t use me, maybe he can? Maybe he cares? And I believe that.
BUT… what about THE shepherd. Not THEM but each ONE. What if one of the shepherds had just lost several of his sheep to a disease or something? And he wasn’t sure how he was going to feed his family? Or maybe losing your sheep felt like a failed business? Like he was maybe really embarrassed and ashamed? What if one of the shepherds had just lost his bride in childbirth? Or lost one of his kids? His home?
I’m just saying, what if the shepherd had a storm? What if something really hard had just happened?
And what if me and my friend are shepherds this advent?
Out in a field.
How the hell do I move on from here?
Where do I start?
Do I even want to start?
What am I even trying to build?
I can’t build what was; that is gone. People tell me I’m just re-building but that implies that which was, can be re-built. But I’m not re-building. Things will never be the same.
So what then?
And what if I see something beautiful in the ashes and I can’t stop staring at it; not yet ready to change the very thing that totally transformed me in the most beautiful of ways. My mess is my art. And I’m not ready yet, to change the artwork. To pick up one piece would change how it all came down on me.
So what if I just keep starting at the wreckage?
Is that ok?
But I mean, ok for how long?
Advent means to wait, you know.
So what if I just stand.
AND IN THAT MOMENT OF WAITING... BOOM… Angels.
Don’t be afraid, they say.
And I know they go on to say lots of other lovely things, about a baby in a manger, all cute and wrapped in swaddling clothes. And then they sing super awe-inspiring songs. I know that.
BUT WHAT IF.
The first thing they do is stand with the shepherd.
What if they enter into Shabbat with him, with me, with my friend.
What if those angels, what if they pause?
I wonder if they said DO NOT BE AFRAID, not because they were too bright of lights. But because the first thing they knew to do was to shine on the art, the ashes, and stand quietly in the road, holding our hands. Saying, it's okay. We don't need to be afraid of the messy.
I think good news comes.
But there’s a pause first.
There is something extraordinarily beautiful in taking time to pause and account for the storm. Gawd, if you survived it, you might as well take a moment and look at how the strom managed to destroy EVERYTHING AROUND YOU, but that YOU ARE STILL STANDING.
I bring you good news. They will eventually say.
A Savior has been born. This is true.
Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Aww, how cute!
But right now?
Right now, I’m standing.
I. AM. STANDING.
And that is enough.
In fact, it is absolutely beautiful.
And this advent, I feel all the heavenly hosts standing with me.
Together, we are in a sacred pause.
And slowly, ever so slowly. I will sing.
I cannot, I simply cannot wait for the moment my soul is ready for the first note of that beautiful rejoicing, At some moment, not now, not today… but there will be a moment when that first harp string is strung, that first piano note played; piercing the silence with a new song. And my soul will go from my sacred pause to: “Glory to God in the highest heaven...and on earth peace to me, to us, on whom his favor rests.”
With one simple note, my life will carry on.
But for now. I stand.