There is a beauty in death, if you can look beyond the pain to find it. The leaves, in all of their glory, have been radiating across the countryside for weeks now, their vibrancy lighting up the landscape like fire. Nothing quite compares to a New England fall, the variety of colors astounding even those of us who have lived a lifetime here. But now their beauty has faded and, in a last effort to cling to the life they had lived, each one holds on with a surprising tenacity. Their resistance is pointless, but I don't blame them. They are holding on to everything they've ever had, clutched in a vice-like grip on the last semblance of living they have left. No, I don't blame them at all. I envy them. At least they're still holding on.
There is a time in every journey when the shackles of crisis fall away, leaving you free to pursue the Promise Land, but yet you still have more road to travel. Not still waiting to move, but unable to find a resting place - you're not in Egypt, not yet in Canaan - it's the desert.
As we begin this year's countdown to Christmas, my family and I started an Advent reading calendar to prepare our hearts and help keep our focus on the important parts of Christmas through the holiday mayhem. We've never done it before, as our kids have been too little to really understand, but as we sat down today with the lights twinkling and the fire roaring, it really started to feel like Christmas. As we cozied up, the storm raged outside (the RAIN storm, mind you, in 39 degree weather on the FIRST DAY OF DECEMBER - oh so festive!) and the Christmas music was playing softly in the background when our 6 year old asked, "What is 'Advent'?" I answered without really thinking, "It's the time leading up to Christmas that we use to prepare our hearts and remember what Christ did for us." And in that moment, a lifetime of Scriptures and Christmas cliches culminated in a newfound revelation that brings me to where I am now, sitting at my computer, and writing to you.