Kimberly and I have been online friends for a few years, but we met for the first time in person just this October. I’ve recently taken a few friendships from the online world to the real world, and it is always a treat to discover that the person you like from a distance is also completely likeable face to face. But Kimberly? Well, we spent almost the entirety of our first in-person conversation saying, “You too??” We are more alike than I ever would have guessed, and I love knowing that this talented writer and like-minded friend is only a few hours away by car.
And this reflection? Well, this may be Kimberly’s first year observing Advent, but she has captured it beautifully, perfectly.
Here is an Advent treasure.
To Hold Longing
I hand-picked the peeling birch branches we cut off the dying tree in the backyard. They’re white and spare and beautiful. Last Christmas, I hung small white doves from every twig. They sat like tiny messengers delivering a promise of peace for the year to come.
This year, I chose those same spare branches to hang the ornaments for our first Jesse tree. Every day, I look at it, and it feels unfinished, lopsided, undone. I miss the doves with promise caught up in their wings. When I hung them, the look was complete. Instant beauty, strung up and done. Next project, please.
Now, the branches sit waiting for the next reminder, the next piece of the Advent story we string into place each night. My children don’t know what to make of it. We’ve never observed Advent before, and they don’t know exactly where this story and this Jesse tree will lead us.
Over the years, they’ve grown increasingly unaccustomed to waiting. They want insta-Christmas with all of the parties and early gifts and holiday cheer distracting them from the wait for presents on Christmas Day. This year, I want all of us to learn what it feels like to sit with the undone. To hold longing. To wait with anticipation for the next thread woven into Jesus’ story to unravel from the spool.
I don’t know what beauty these threads will weave into place. I know the end result is the Baby, but I don’t know what he will teach me in the waiting. I hope to sit with hands cupped, holding each day and each story lightly, ready to catch and then release them onto what’s left of my backyard tree.
Perhaps this is where the manger always leads us, to the tree where everything that appears unfinished is finally called finished and done. I’m sitting with this promise during Advent, believing that the work of redemption is complete, but knowing I wait still, watching for the final threads of this story, for Kingdom come to unfurl.
After three years spent living in Switzerland, Kimberly Coyle recently relocated with her family to New Jersey. She loves stories, chasing beauty, and grace. Always grace. Connect with Kimberly on her blog or on facebook.