Advent, Day 9: When You Need to Hold Onto Hope

Isaiah 9:2, 6 “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined!  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”

We passed him around from person to person, lifted up dimpled fingers, smiled into his always quizzical eyes. I did that bouncy swingy thing I always do with babies to help them settle down.


She was still there, her body now quiet. No more strain or the gasping of breath. She lay still on the sterile nursing home bed with its white waffle pattern blanket. No longer there.


My sister, dad, mom, brother, his wife Elodie and their infant son surrounded her bed. I came into the room after a short nap at a hotel close to the nursing home. Grieving makes you bone-tired. Mom met me at the door with a simple: “She’s gone.”


Our beautiful Nona had just died and many of them had just arrived from an 8 hour drive across Pennsylvania just in time to see her last labored breaths, her searching into their eyes, her mouthing the Lord’s Prayer with them.


When the weeping stilled we began looking around, intuitively searching for joy.


Sweet baby sounds turned our heads. We started passing him around, nuzzling his neck, looking into his eyes, smelling the warm baby smell on the top of his head. We spoke low, quieting him like she had us.


This precious baby, he was not just theirs, my brother’s, Elodie’s. He was ours.


We were taking deep breaths of our future, deep gulps of hope.


And this one? This Jesus?


He is Hope incarnate…


born for all of us, for you, for me. The hope of our future.


You dear friend, maybe you are grieving like us. A dream cut short, a love passed away, a waiting stretched out into the new year.


Come. Let’s crawl up to the holy together, kneel at the manger.


Grasp the rough wood sides.


Take a deep breath of the sweet scent of hay.


Watch the rise and fall of his chest,


his small nostrils flare gently with each breath.


Listen to his sucking sounds.


His eyes open slowly


and we ask permission to pick Him up.


He fits small in our crossed arms, our open hands.


We brush lips against the smooth of his cheek


smell the just cleaned off new life,


wonder into His ancient eyes.


This perfect little package is our future. We slide hands over smooth swaddling.


This is Love with skin on.


Here in this tiny wrapped up package is Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Hope has come.


Hope will come again.


Don’t miss the gift of joy here:


The photo is from Deb Howard Photography. She has a lens through which she discovers little bits of Advent poetry.


Thank you for the gift of your reading, your listening, your journeying with us. You are a gift. Don’t miss a post as we pass the halfway mark of Advent. Slip your email quietly into the CONNECT box on the front page and we will make this pilgrimage together.

If you’ve missed a post, the box top left will help you catch up. Blessings, my friend. I’m praying for you.


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