I always am aware that Advent - the 4 weeks before our celebration of the birth of Jesus - is a mixed bag. And it surely is this year.
The mixed bag is this: on the one hand, it is the "Christmas Season" and we are getting ready for this holiday and that is kind of fun. I like Christmas carols and Christmas cookies and the whole thing of actually thinking about the people I love and buying them something. That is nice.
On the other hand, the days are shorter and darker and colder and there is a sadness underneath the celebration. We are going into winter. I sat in my living room this morning and looked out the window at the bare trees and the snow flurries and all the cars in my neighbors driveway and felt sad.
Part of my sadness of this season is the knowledge that one of the sweetest young women I have ever met is now in hospice care. She has battled stage 4 breast cancer for 3 years and it is time to stop taking chemo and prepare for leaving this earth.
And she is - in the most mature and thoughtful ways. I feel honored to be part of the people who get to spend time with her now and feel an undercurrent of sadness.
At the same time I went to "breakfast with Santa" at the YMCA on Saturday with two daughters, 4 grandkids and one very happy husband and felt blessed beyond all deserving.
I cannot make sense of all of this. I do remember Bob Versteeg from Bowling Green would always say - that Jesus came for the people who are suffering. And so we wait for our celebration of the birth of our Lord that reminds me that we are never alone in any experience of life on earth.
And for me, this time seems very much to be about living in the present and enjoying the gift of every moment of every day.
So, this is Advent.