This morning, at about 5:55am, we awoke to that annoying *click* that tells you the power has either just gone out or turned back on. Looking out to the pre-dawn darkness on the street, our neighbors’ lights went from dark to light quickly as power restored to our street. All it seemed, but ours.
Being a new home owner, I immediately began to worry about this, our first “crisis”. Why didn’t my power come back? What to do? Check the breakers, call the power company, pace up and down the stairs a bit, find a flashlight in half-unpacked boxes. Being the handy-man I’m not, I sensed my anxiety rising as I realized, “I don’t know who is going to fix this, because it’s sure not me…”
In the darkness, I fumbled about, found my phone and made contact with the power company. They assured me that they would look into the issue. I hung up. All I could do was wait.
And wait we did. We lit candles, grabbed blankets, and waited. Thankfully, it’s the season of Advent right now and we are in full supply of tea lights and candles, all out and in use as we decorate and prepare for Christmas. There in the candle light, we waited.
As I sat on the couch, looking out at the semi-lit street, seeing little glimpses of dawn’s light beginning to break through the sky, I began to wonder about the panic and worry that set in as I realized the power had gone out. Why? I also began to notice the darkness more, the cold house holding some sense of pause and suspension, anticipating the return of light but also embracing the tension of the darkness. We sat in the dim light and waited.
Advent is a season of waiting. It is a time where we prepare ourselves for the joy of Christmas, the “advent” of the coming light of Christ. Advent is a response to live like those who had been waiting for Christ’s coming before his birth, preparing and hoping. It is also a season of waiting for the light to return, holding on to hope that in the darkness and cold of the world, the light will some day, some how, come back on and illuminate the world in all its sadness and sorrow, bringing joy and warmth.
I cannot say that practicing the waiting of Advent is always easy for me. I love the idea of the season of preparation, but these days I’m distracted and hurried. I have papers to write, work to finish, a house to get organized, and friends I want to see. I like to think about Advent, but letting myself be captivated by the slow, patient waiting for the return of the light is often too much for me to bear.
I was struck, in this moment, by how this imposition of darkness caused by the power going out brought me into a close reflection of how to practice Advent waiting. Maybe I needed the power to *click* off, if only for a short time (honestly, it was just off for about an hour and half). Maybe it was God’s kindness imposing itself on me, offering me a space to see stillness, wait patiently, and long for the light to come.
The seasons of Advent and Christmas, if engaged with our full selves, often require us to entertain mixed emotions: we experience joy even when we’re weary and tired from a long year; we experience gratefulness that challenges our consumerism; we experience belonging with family when most of the time we feel so alone. I wonder if something like this power outage calls me into seeing the darkness for what it is, an opportunity to engage it as a blessing. Maybe this is a metaphor for Advent, a physical manifestation of the mixture and closeness between real life and the holiness of God. Today, I’ve been challenged to sit and wait in the darkness, blessed to be without so that I might long for what is coming.