As many of you may remember, Laura and embarked upon this year with a noble plan to keep and chronicle “all the golden hours” in this space. Inspiration was running high, and the warmth of your fellowship here through the 2016 Advent and Christmas season fueled our ambition to keep watching for glimpses of a coming and present glory amid the ordinary round of “the rest of the year.”
All noble purposes to the contrary, however, it’s been a fitful undertaking, fizzling out almost entirely at the end of a seemingly endless summer. (I say almost entirely–please tell me you didn’t miss the exquisite exception of Laura’s post about the solar eclipse.)
Fact is, it’s been a year–as in, one for the record books. I’m sure so many of you can relate, as events at large and events closer to home have left us battered and rather dazed in these waning weeks of 2017. Laura and I know we’re not the only ones limping towards the finish line of this year; we know that so many of you who are reading this are wondering how you’re ever going to kindle your hearts towards the holidays, where you’re ever going to find the energy or the inspiration–much less the joy–to craft a meaningful Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas for yourself and those you love.
It’s tempting (God only knows how much) to put my head down and just survive as best I may this year.
Which is exactly why it’s critical to press in deeper than ever–with more hunger, more persistence, more honest longing–to the mystery and the ancient, aching radiance of Advent and Christmas. I know this, though my heart quails at the prospect of a grace I cannot yet see. But I know it’s waiting for me–waiting for all of us–amid these shards and splintered remains of a year.
On Tuesday, my husband and I carved jack o’ lanterns together, a yearly tradition which evokes happy memories of both our own childhoods and of our years together. Traditions not only reveal the wild gallop of time as each act comes around again, swifter than the year before; paradoxically, they anchor us in time, granting us a glimpse of the master shuttle, weaving our days into a meaningful story of intention, continuity, and love.
So it was, that as I plunged my knife into the firm rind of my pumpkin, I felt a curious shiver of delight, a unique flavor of happiness I had not known in many months. It was a gloriously cool and golden October afternoon, and the yard was crossed with long, low beams of light. To the west, the woods and pasture were beginning to dream under gathering blue shadows, and overhead, a nearly full moon mounted in a pale, clear sky. The scents of chili simmering and brownies baking wafted out an open window, and from the barnyard came the matronly bustle and cluck of my hens putting themselves up for the night.
I looked across at Philip with a smile.
“You know, I’m glad we couldn’t have seen this moment a year ago,” I said. “Because I think we would have been frightened by all the sadness leading up to it. At least, I would have been frightened. But we wouldn’t have been able to really see the goodness—this goodness, and all the goodness hidden for us in the grief of this year. And the goodness is part of the sadness, and the goodness is so real.”
I came across a lovely quotation on my friend Sarah’s blog today, a passage centering Advent within the “noise of destruction” and the “weeping of despair and helplessness” of our broken world.
But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. ~Alfred Delp
Laura and I met for lunch the other day, to discuss, among other things, the future of Golden Hours. And even as we talked the intention grew bright and glad between us once more.
Now, more than ever, we need one another’s company in this holy journey of promise and longing and ultimate fulfillment. And we need you, and your myriad candles and torch-flares against the darkness. In this space of now, but not yet, we want to affirm that Redemption is real, and active among us. Even now, the rim of the world is flushed and eager, heralding the dawn of our Dayspring…
It’s for this reason I’m happy to announce that, starting next week, Golden Hours will resume a regular posting schedule. I, at least, have no idea what this holiday season will look like, but I’m convinced there is radiance and glory buried at the heart of it.
Will you join us–in our search and in our celebration?