In my defense, I didn’t really realize what I was asking of you.
I was talking with a friend the other day, and she was trying to get an idea of what kind of gifts we might like for the advent calendar. She is a thoughtful, articulate person, so I was confused, and told her, “no, no, we just want you to use some words, you don’t need to do anything that extravagant!”
I know that there are people who just like to give gifts, so I expected that a few people would want to send us something, but I was surprised at the number of people who did. I thought I had asked a simple thing – that wouldn’t require any cost, or even much time. No work beyond a few minutes thinking (less if you have foot-in-mouth syndrome like me) and a quick email. Simple. Nearly effortless.
But as I talked with my friend, I remembered how hard words are.
Last year, my friend’s baby died. I did what I knew to support and love her (and talked with her about how she thought we could help), which mostly meant taking Beatrix and going to spend time with her most days. But then I was leaving the country for nearly 2 months, and I felt like I was abandoning her in her time of need. So I decided to make her a “calendar” of sorts, with something from me each day we were gone. Some days it was presents (here are some minutes for your phone; today is market day, buy cheese on me this week; etc.). Those days were easy. I also asked some of our mutual friends to write her notes for some days, and those days were easy for me, too. Most days I wrote notes, and those were so much harder. Anything I tried to write that would actually be encouraging and loving, felt so trite, and I thought I had no right to say those things to her. But anything I wrote that didn’t seem to speak to her grieving situation felt shallow and pointless. It made me feel so vulnerable, and afraid – because I desperately wanted to encourage and love her – but it was only by doing it that I could know if it would actually be any good.
Had I remembered that, I never would have dared to ask you to contribute to our Advent.
(I’m glad I forgot, because it looks like you have responded to the occasion magnificently.) Our friend Elizabeth put in a lot of time and emotional work into organizing it, and we are so thankful to her for doing it.
It is set up to be more practical than pretty, because we will be travelling this month – I want to show you, but it doesn’t look that impressive:
But I did sneak a picture, without peeking, while Elizabeth was doing the final organizing, and I think that is a much better visual:
Thank you for your courage. Thank you for taking this thing I was dreading it and making it something I am really excited about and looking forward to.
Winter is coming.
And so is He.