Thanksgiving is over. It was a day of grace and gratitude with people from around the world gathered in warmth and belonging. Israelis mingled with Syrians, Iranians with Americans, Greeks with Serbians – all over turkey and pumpkin pie. Candles burned bright and laughter came easily. We said goodbyes slowly that night and the goodbyes have continued as our adult children linger on for just a couple more days.
Yesterday as I sat on our couch, the light of day fast fading into a dark that comes too soon, I felt an inexplicable sadness and longing. My daughter Stefanie and I had taken out some Christmas decorations to bring some solace to our aching hearts and Sufjan Stevens played in the background, but it wasn’t enough. The ache was deep, the longing acute.
In years past I thought that much of my longing was about being a third culture kid; about living Between Worlds, not really belonging to either. That there is a unique longing and grief associated with growing up between worlds cannot be denied, but this longing is in a separate category. The longing that I felt yesterday is not the longing associated with place and people.
It’s the longing for whispers of sorrow to become shouts of joy.
It’s the longing for glimpses of truth to be replaced by complete and clear vision of that which is good, that which is holy.
It’s the longing for wrong to be made right.
It’s the longing for a broken world to be repaired and redeemed.
It’s the longing that comes when I see a man, his body deformed and his ability to function impaired and weep for him to be made whole. The longing that comes when I hear of atrocities and cry for justice; the longing when I hear of pain and beg for comfort. The longing when I hear the stories of refugees, and pray desperately that they will heal and find peace.
The longing to see the world as it was intended, not as it is.
Advent allows me to wait with expectation, to hear whispers of hope echo throughout this world. Because this is truth – from small villages in Pakistan to large homes in suburbia, our deepest longings are the same.
The season of Advent allows me to put words of longing and expectancy in the same sentence, the same breath. In the words of Madeleine L’Engle, it is the “irrational season” – a time when reason can be replaced by anticipation, trust, and expectant belief.