lighting the survival candle

You know Advent wreaths?

The kind with four candles that you light each Sunday leading up to Christmas?

Then the one in the center for Christmas Eve?

You know how each candle has a theme: Peace, Love, Joy, Hope?

Yeah, well, today’s candle was the pink one: Joy.

Whatever.

What.

Ev.

Er.

I’m just trying to survive “the most wonderful time of the year” without my daughter and the Advent wreath starts yammering on about joy?

Puh-leese.

Lights along the river, Ljubljana, Slovenia (photo: Andy Bruner)

Lights along the river, Ljubljana, Slovenia (photo: Andy Bruner)

Joy is wonderful, and I’m glad for anybody who has it, but I don’t even know what that means right now.

What’s more, I don’t have the emotional energy to figure it out.

I’ve decided that survival is enough this season, thank you very much.

I don’t have to do anything more than get through this.

And it doesn’t even have to be especially pretty.

Who’s the boss of Advent wreaths, anyway?

Who decided on these themes?

Some random committee somewhere, relentlessly devoted to the happy medium, probably.

In 2002, I wrote this quote from John Claypool in my journal.

Claypool is commenting on Isaiah 40:31: But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

“What wants to be slowed to a walk, to creep along inch by inch, just barely above the threshold of consciousness and not fainting? That may not sound like much of a religious experience, but believe me, in the kind of darkenss where I have been, it is the only form of the promise that fits the situation. When there is no occasion to soar and no place to run, and all you can do is trudge along step by step, to hear of a Help that will enable you to ‘walk and not faint’ is good news indeed.”

It’s okay to have low expectations in dark times.

It’s okay to be creeping along the best we can.

It’s okay to simply survive.

I say we have an Advent wreath revolution and light a candle for survival.

A survival candle for the outliers, the lonely, the devastated-by-life, the crawlers-along.

A survival candle for all of us who aren’t okay, and we’re okay with not being okay because this is real life right now.

A survival candle for the truth, even though it hurts.

Let’s light the survival candle together, all of us who need it this season.

Let’s let survival be enough, when that’s all we can do.

Let’s be okay with getting through it, whatever that means in this moment.

Let’s hunker down and hibernate and drink as much hot tea as necessary.

Let’s let Aldi bake the Christmas cookies.

Let’s be kind to ourselves with no expectations of energy and emotions we can’t manufacture right now.

In the kind of darkness where we are now,

we cling to the Love we find in each other.

That Love is the gift of this season,

the only hope that makes sense.

That Love enables us to walk and not faint.

That Love lights the survival candle.

Moment by moment.

Breath by breath.

And it is enough.

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