As an outsider to the practice of Advent for most of my life, it seems to me a useful kind of imagining. It reminds those who know Jesus of the anticipation of Jewish people in ancient times waiting for someone to save them—and the dread of wondering whether rescue would come in their lifetime. Advent thus collapses the expectant mood of centuries of ancient Jewish history into a four-week window on the calendar. They were expecting but didn’t know just what to expect.
I thought about the baby bird off and on all weekend. Did it make it through the cold night when temps dipped down into the thirties? One moment I was sure the mama bird fed it and kept it warm, but the next moment I pictured a tiny, feathered body, unmoving and alone for the winter to come. Hope and dread in the same breath.
I have many happy memories of Grandma’s house: sitting at the kitchen table slathering saltines with butter, hiding under the dining room table with the long lacy tablecloth that made it as cozy as a tent or a womb, watching envelopes drop through the mail slot onto the linoleum floor, making unwelcome contributions to Grandpa’s crossword puzzle. But Grandma holding out her golden “dancin’ shoes” for me to see might be the most vivid.
When she told me her gold house slippers stored high in the spare-room closet were “dancin’ shoes” I didn’t question it. It wasn’t until I was well into my thirties that I realized she was joking. Talk about a delayed response. I can’t remember ever seeing her dance, and I’m pretty sure my grandpa never went dancing in his life. The shoes that dazzled me that day were a pair of house slippers, fancy ones that lived in a box, unworn.
To be continued . . .