It’s December 27th. All our presents are still sitting under the tree. It’s a real tree; we switched a few years back from the towering style that came in pieces in a box. You had to spread each branch out intentionally filling in the gaps of evergreen, trying to hide the metallic core. I was the one each year designated to fill in those spaces. I don’t know if it was because I was actually talented in the art of fake spruce or if I was the only one who became obsessed by their placement, putting meaning into each bend as if it was art or salvation. I prefer real trees.
The siblings have now almost all rolled in from various states, nephews and nieces in tow, and I’m left again overwhelmed by it all. For the last few weeks, I’ve been sitting in the waiting. Holding onto it as if it was the season I’d been wanting all year long. And, perhaps some of the truth is that it has been what I’ve wanted all year long. It has given me permission to mourn, to speak into the night – hope for something different. This waiting is the tension I notice sitting in my stomach most days. I need joy to show up.
But, the second truth is that sometimes I’m not sure I’m ready for the waiting to end. I feel I am afraid I will be like that child on Christmas day that after strewing wrapping and strings and paper all around ends up sitting in it all, saying, “but is that all?” And, for that reason, I delay. As the expectation grows, I grow more anxious. Perhaps, we should just forget the whole thing. I am afraid of my own disappointment. What if after all of this, I am holding nothing?
So the real truth then is that any ending terrifies me. And, so I gather, all these things, these people, these places, and hold on for dear life. We build ourselves mansions with these parts that were never meant to be walls and furnishings.
I am learning, instead, that waiting is a wondering. It is participation in this life with all it’s heartaches and small victories. It is noticing what is here and now and then watching it go, feeling the joy and the pain. It takes all of you.
If you asked me to describe what I believe will happen at the end of all of this, I would probably fumble over my words. I know that because there are days when I have tried to explain the belief that seems built into my bones despite the doubt of my skin that tries to shake it. I never feel like I have really said much of anything; maybe it was a metaphor or a tenant that doesn’t really explain what faith is. I say that mostly out of my own frustration because the truth is that I would like it to be built much sturdier. I wish it felt like a wide, wire cable. If anything it’s more like a perennial that grows, seemingly dies, but is dormant, ready to come again when it feels like winter will never end.