For You, O Lord, our souls in stillness wait
Truly, our hope is in You
I’ve been singing this song a lot lately, but with a sorry lack of conviction. These days my soul feels anything but still. In this month that is all about waiting, receiving, and rejoicing, I am running on fumes and doing more striving, more burdening myself with impossible standards, more “Why is my calendar so full?” than anything else. I haven’t just reached my limits; I seem to have set up camp there. I would send you a postcard, but the view is a little bleak.
Every day I take the Metro to work. The station platform is always filled with unhappy, impatient, tired commuters. So tired - tired of winter, of disappointed expectations, of thankless jobs, of lives that demand more hours in the day to get everything done while the unbending laws of time refuse to oblige. It’s cold and grey and we wonder why we go through all of this. Do those squeaky voices hurling Christmas tunes at us over the radio actually inhabit the same reality we do? Where is all this supposed cozy warmth and glistening romance and relational wholeness? It’s not on this Metro platform, that’s for sure. The view from here is dry and dusty, a hardened shell of hopelessness.
When I was a child I was fascinated by geodes. I didn’t particularly enjoy science but I loved art, and here was some strange product of the earth that had a secret explosion of beauty hidden inside of it, waiting for someone to find it under the grey crust. Perhaps the greater wonder is that the exuberant crystals would be there anyway, showing off, whether or not anyone uncovered them. “Even the stones will cry out…”
I thought of geodes the other day during my daily wait at the Metro station, wondering if there was anything beautiful underneath or behind or inside of this frosty, foggy striving. Of course Advent tells us that there is. Advent happens when we are at our most dry and grey, daring us to believe that we’re not alone and that there is more beneath the surface. The God who said “Come to me, all you who are heavy laden” first came to dwell among the imperfect and unlovely, packaging the whole glimmering reality of the divine inside a bent and broken form. Advent tells us that one night all heaven broke loose and earth was never the same, and that there are now fault lines running through our hopelessness. Underneath the shell subversive grace moved in and has been quietly building a whole new world in dazzling, gem-like Technicolor. It is there crying out, whether we see it or not as we wait on the platform.
As you camp out at the bitter end of your own ability, and maybe of hope, look closely at the fault lines for the crystal lining breaking through the surface. There grace is crying out a good news that blinds our fears and affirms the deepest hungers of our hearts. It is a blood-red promise that in the end, what awaits us is a life in which activity is worship and rest is celebration. This is our hope and expectation, an upside-down kingdom running under the grey crust of winter like a thousand blinding crystals singing to us, the unlikely witnesses.
Weary world, rejoice.