I come home from Thanksgiving and step out on the back porch. It's supposed to drop into the 20s tonight, so I need to bring the hibiscus in. It may not make any difference. They haven't gotten water in at least a week. My breath catches a little when I look. Not one, but two yellow blooms opening their red hearts to the sun like some defiant glory. I look up as I smile. Jot it on my mental list. Whisper thanks.
The last leaf trembles on the branches above me. I look up at the bare limbs and down at the piles on the ground. I sigh, thinking about how strange it is for the trees to disrobe just before the cold sinks in, before winter. I hear it like some whisper in the breeze - Not succumbing to winter, but opening to Advent. Ah yes. The bare branches piercing the sky, they can look like death....
Or they can look like eager anticipation.
Because when you peel it all away and reveal the very center of it, there is this waiting for something new and wonderful to be born. And in a world of breaking hearts and broken glass and fires raging, we all cry Maranatha - Lord come quickly. And He is coming. He has come. And we remember. We remember the words of Isaiah. "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." That when all looks lost and dead and dry, He breaks forth in humility and light. And every year, the trees disrobe to remind us of just that. Out of the silence and the darkness, when all hope seemed lost and the waiting appeared to be just too much, a baby's cry broke through and the coming Victory echoed long.
So I'll peel the layers back one by one in the coming days. I'll open my heart up to the glory of the sun. I'll bundle warm, and I'll remember that the waiting will end. Brokenness will be made whole. The fires will bring only comfort and never destruction. Vulnerability will be covered. The silence will be broken with a cry and a song. All will be made new. And a star will shine in the darkness forever. I'll breathe the gift of Advent deep.