Some people live in the past, others fixate on the future. I’m a future person, often anxious about how things will come out. When Monday morning arrives, I feel a flutter in my stomach, an edge of worry about all the things to be done during the week. Will I accomplish the things on my list? How? Is it even possible? I never get to the logical next step of asking, “So what?” Truth be told, the anxiety is less about personal productivity than the simple fact of not knowing what’s coming.
When we saw the baby bird in the nest on the last day of November, I thought to myself: poor thing, it’s a goner. Then, as my dad stepped down from the bucket he stood on to look into the nest, I heard a bird somewhere out of sight chirping. Maybe it was perched high in the tree at the back edge of the yard; maybe it was the mama bird. Hope and dread in one breath.
One day at Grandma’s house, when I was maybe six or seven, she stood on a wooden step ladder getting things down from a high closet shelf. I don’t know if she was clearing it out or putting stuff away. The thing I remember is a pair of golden slippers, brought down in a shoebox that said Kinney or Connie or Soft Soles. Any memory of the box was eclipsed by my total astonishment at the shoes, metallic gold slippers with no heel. Made from pink terry cloth, these would have been regular old “house shoes” for scuffing around before noon. But these were more like Dorothy’s ruby slippers or a genie’s shoes, the most enchanting footwear I’d ever seen. Today, it seems every piece of apparel has glitter or sequins or metallic bling, but not back then. I could not wait for my feet to grow so I could wear them. “You like these?” Grandma said. “These are my dancin’ shoes.”
We celebrate Advent knowing the Savior who came–Jesus–but the people awaiting the Messiah didn’t know what to expect. They longed for a powerful figure in the line of King David who would throw off political oppression and end Roman occupation. What they got was someone obsessed with love and unity, not politically pragmatic or overly concerned with the power structure of the Roman Empire. During Advent we have the benefit of rearview-mirror vision, which gives us the nice sensation of knowing what’s coming—and knowing he’s unequivocally good.
In other parts of life, we have no idea what’s coming.
To be continued . . .