First Sunday of Advent: Hope

Advent is here! It is the season of anticipation before Christmas, as well as the start of the new liturgical year. Christians celebrate with Advent calendars, Advent wreaths, Jesse Trees, and – at least in my experience – many, many repetitions of “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

In some churches, the four weeks of Advent are each given a theme: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. This first week of Advent, we celebrate hope:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:21-24

I need the Lord’s hope very much right now. Our world seems to be increasingly chaotic, frighteningly greedy, and profoundly unkind, and I sometimes wonder how much more we will stray from “loving our neighbor” as God commands. I see so much self-interest, so many people seeing anyone different from themselves as “other,” so little willingness to listen or to work together.

I firmly believe that we are meant to live in interdependence, so putting the interests of my family, my country, my “people” (whether race, class, gender, age, or any other group) or my beliefs over those of anyone else – especially over the vulnerable – just seems wrong. (I realize completely that if I were truly living that out, I would sell what I have and give the money to the poor. I’m not saying that I’m doing it right, only that I see it as the ideal to strive for.) We are the ones who need to make the steadfast love and mercy of the Lord visible to the world. I have hope that God will give us the strength to do so.

On a more personal level, I need the Lord’s hope to deal with my health. I’m in the process of being diagnosed with yet another rare health condition (which is causing a “hole” in the vision of my right eye), and they’ve recently discovered that I’m suffering from iron overload and have dangerously high cholesterol. I’m pretty freaked out, for obvious reasons, but also angry at myself and my oh-so-fallible body. Given this, I’m frustrated with my inability to stick to better habits of sleep, nutrition, and exercise. I know what I need to do, I know that I need to do it, and yet I don’t. Sometimes I think it will take an Act of God to shake me up and turn me around, so I certainly hope one is coming!

I’d love to hear from you. What do you hope for?

Thanks for nothing!

I came up with the perfect birthday gift for David, the man who is impossible to buy for: NOTHING.

Now, this isn’t as stingy – nor as easy – as it sounds.  The nothing I gave him took a great deal of time and effort, and I am incredibly proud of myself.

There is, right now, nothing on the floor of our bedroom except furniture and Bonesy’s dog bed. Nothing on the hope chest at the foot of our bed. Nothing on the bed itself, nothing on the little desk by the window.  Nothing.

It was not just a matter of tidying up and putting things back where they belong. I had piles of things that were lying around because they did not belong anywhere. Piles that, you know, I was in the midst of “processing,” never mind the fact that some of them had been shuffled from surface to surface for years. Piles that I have known, for as long as they have been there, drive David crazy.  Frankly, the piles have driven me crazy, too. I spend an inordinate amount of time in bed, and every minute I lie there I have had to stare at those piles. It’s been incredibly depressing.

But no longer! I have schlepped every last non-essential thing that was visible in my bedroom down to Qui– to a secret location that may or may not rhyme with “Finland’s Broom” but which I am certain is not currently in use. I figure I can bring things upstairs one at a time between now and December (by which time the location will need to be cleared), and decide if I want to find homes for them or let them go. Either way, neither David nor I will have to live with a cluttered master bedroom for one more second.

Hooray! Happy birthday, David! Good job, me!

Movie of the Week: When Harry Met Sally 

Quinland and I have been celebrating the glory that is When Harry Met Sally this week, through texts, phone calls, and Snapchat. It’s been awesome. Yesterday I got a text from him that just said, “If you need a root canal, Sheldon’s your man.” I was right there with him: “But humpin’ and pumpin’ is not Sheldon’s strong suit.”

We passed favorite quotes back and forth:

“Call the cops! It’s already out there!”

“You’re the worst kind. You’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”

“Six years later you find yourself singing ‘Surrey with a Fringe on Top’ in front of Ira!”

“What they could do to make it easier is combine the two. You know, Mr. Kline died yesterday, leaving behind a wife, two children, and a spacious three bedroom apartment with a wood burning fireplace.”

Then, of course, there is this scene, which has so many lines that kill me in it:

It’s such a good movie. Nora Ephron is a genius comic writer, I think all the principal actors are hilarious in their parts, and even the smallest lines crack me up. If you have not had a chance to see it, you should. More than once, in fact. It’s only then that you pick up on all the subtle things, and pretty soon, you’ll think that virtually every line is perfect.

You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death.