"Have you heard anything new today?" I ask some of my friends. Aghast at the injustice my Haitian family is dealing with this year, I am searching. Daily, I find, I search for anything new. Any new sign of hope and healing and transformation in this country. While the news articles are slim, and it feels the world has turned its back on the country that I love and the people that are like family to me, I seek out any glimmer of hope or care.
For months, this has been my tradition. I get on the phone, I talk with people locally. I wonder what it means for Haiti to continue to rage on in such a time as this.
This is not the first time I've felt this way, either. In my near-decade of experience there, I have felt overwhelmed by crushing feelings of hopelessness in my own soul, wondering how things can get better. When they do get better, I am thankful and filled with hope. But I am also always shocked at how easy it is for me to get into a place of fear, anguish, and burn out.
This holiday season, I feel it deeply. I feel the surrounding pain and weight of so much crashing down upon me. I break under the weight; it cannot be carried.
And then the season of Advent begins, and I remember that this is a season for us to actually feel the weight. It is a season carved out in the Church calendar to walk through the challenges of our lives and cry out for more. We remember what it was like for our ancient Israelite brothers and sisters, who at a "thrill of hope," they rejoiced, though they were very weary (as the song goes).
This Sunday, we light candle 1 on the Advent wreath. If you are unfamiliar with the tradition of Advent, I really believe there is something to learn from this ancient tradition. Advent means "coming," particularly of something that is worthy or notable. When we celebrate the Christian season of Advent, it both honors the coming of the Christ as well as noting that the world is not perfect, not by a long shot, and we continue to wait for the promise that is to come. This season helps us acknowledge the absence of joy in pockets of our lives, even when Mariah Carey's hits are streaming through the mall. This season allows us to be pensive and aware in a time where we are coaxed into food comas and overspending at every turn.
No matter your personal holiday season traditions, the season of Advent encourages us to be honest in a time where we can get overwhelmed.
I am a firm believer in moving in rhythm with the seasons. As the world complains that it is getting darker and colder earlier, perhaps this is a time to merely acknowledge the darkness in our own lives, and the lights that shine anyway. Perhaps it is a time to know that it is ok to have darkness in our lives, to be weary . . . but to also hope for something more. Light those candles, turn on those Christmas lights, and notice their hue in the darkness of night.
This Christmas season, consider observing Advent as well. This observation is so helpful in being conscious of how we spend our time this season. Be honest with yourself if you are weary. Feel those hard feelings if you are overwhelmed. Acknowledge you're in the darkness if you are waiting. Know that there is room for that in this season, as well. There is space for your hardships, your let downs. There is room if you are missing someone this season, if you struggle with depression, or if you want injustice to end. There is room, and Advent celebrates the glimmer of hope - - even if it looks differently than you expected.