Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen
We fall into Advent days like falling into some emptiness. There is a fissure in time, and we, for a time, are lost in it.
How long, Lord, how long? The cry of Advent reaches backwards and forwards. And it covers everything – everything we believe to be true and everything too good to be true. Everything that is broken and everything we hope has been healed.
It is a cry for ourselves. It is a cry for our country. This week, I can’t forget that it is a cry for Americans of color, our neighbors who have carried a weight of injustice for too long.
How long, Lord, how long?
The only stories I can rightly tell are my own, but I struggle even to tell my own stories. One of the hardest to tell has long been the story of our son’s health. What he suffers is his to suffer, I suffer only on the margins of his story. Perhaps I do not suffer at all, but am only inconvenienced. Yet the view from here is only sometimes ugly. Mostly … mostly, it is beautiful.
And that is why I struggle to tell it. How is it that the most terrible things, the hardest things, might also be blessings? And how do I tell those stories without glossing over all that remains deeply wrong? Deeply unfair?
Of course, I’m talking about my little boy and about our growing epidemic of severe food allergies. Why, Lord, are our children endangered by their food?
And, of course, I’m talking about Advent. About the impossibility, the wrongness of our God made so small and so vulnerable, and how it is also the very greatest rightness. The most right and wonderful thing in the world.
And I am talking about Michael Brown, and I am talking about Eric Garner, and all the terrible things that can and should be set to right.
And I am talking about hope. Which is the light that shines with such surprising strength in all the cracks and broken places.
There is a wonderful new website dedicated to stories of hospitality. I am telling my own small story there today. It’s about the crack in our kitchen table. It’s about the crack in our life as a family.
I didn’t think it was about Advent when I wrote it. Now I am not so sure.
Also, there’s a recipe. Our family’s very favorite holiday treat. I really hope you’ll click over and check it out.
P.S. I’ve got something fun planned for the blog tomorrow. Here’s a hint.