Advent reflections

9 Dec

Over the past seven and a half years most holidays have been bittersweet.  This holiday season is more intense on both ends of the spectrum.  How joyous an occasion it is to celebrate Advent and Christmas with our baby girl.  But how difficult it is to do it without my father. 

I remember saying that if I couldn’t enjoy marriage, parenthood, education, etc. without my father to celebrate with me, I didn’t want to experience it.  Luckily, God knows better than grieving seventeen year-olds and I have been blessed with the most amazing husband and daughter…and well, I’ll work on the education soon. 

It used to be that I would catch myself on a daily basis remembering that he is gone.  It would feel as though he was taken from me all over again.  “No one ever told me grief felt so like fear,” said C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed, and I would repeat that daily while I walked through the halls of my high school.  Though I will not pretend that I know what it is like to lose a spouse (nor can I bear the thought for a moment), grief is grief is grief. There is something about it that feels so unholy about it, but that must be because of the selfishness we feel beneath it.  Jesus wept when Lazarus died.  The difference is that my feeling comes not from compassion or empathy, but from selfish desire to have my father here with me.

These days that grief does not catch me off guard.  I don’t find myself wanting to call him to tell him something important or to buy something for him that I know he would love (though who could on a seminary family’s budget?).  The grief falls intensely when I look at Adeline and see my father’s baby photos in her face.  It comes when I get to the ‘Grandparents’ section of her baby book.  And it comes on occasion, perhaps most deeply, when I give thanks to God for all that I have.  Perhaps it is because I wonder if Dad would be as proud of me as he would have if I had taken my intended path.  While I try to live in the manner that Christ intends for me to, I often question if Dad would be pleased with me.  Looking at my dear little family, I am most sure that he could want nothing more for me than Matthew and Adeline. If I do nothing else, they are what I am most proud of and what Dad would have been most proud of me for.

As we celebrate our first Advent as a family, I pray that you all find peace in the absence of those you love – for soon our advent wait is over and Christ our Saviour is born.

Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail, the Son of Righteousness!

Light and Life to all He brings,

Ris’n with healing in His wings.

Mild He waives His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth.

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