Sunday, December 11, 2016
"We hunger and in doing so learn the shape of our emptiness and the and the world's great emptiness in order to prepare room for God's presence. We imagine we are cultivating food or friendship or beauty. But, we are, in all of these ways, cultivating God's glory in our midst."
~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
Until we came to the Solomon Islands, I had never thought about Advent as a time of reflection and preparation. December was always full of Christmas parties and concerts and visiting family and church activities and all of the other little things that kept us hustling and bustling and way too busy. I am slowly absorbing the value of longing, the ache of waiting. On the other side of the loss and vacuum, an increased awareness and joy awaits.
Loss seemed to follow me around this week. Most of them small losses, to be sure, but they added up:
-Sarah's favorite t-shirt, neatly hung, missing from the clothesline
-A dear friend experiencing yet another miscarriage
-Too many clouds, not enough sun, leading to low house batteries
-Aaron's frequent absences as he works in other villages
-Requests from neighbors: fishing line, thread, band-aids, sugar, nails, onions, Tylenol
-Lack of sleep because of late night choir practices in the church next door
-Pineapples disappearing from our garden
Most of these losses spur me to appreciate the "shape of our emptiness":
-Sarah's shirt mysteriously reappeared at the end of the week, flung haphazardly over the line. We've heard of several SITAG families whose clothes have walked off, but never have we heard of the clothes returning.
-To express my empathy, I took curried pumpkin down to my friend when she returned to the clinic. After her first miscarriage, God gave her a healthy baby boy, who will turn six this week. For those of us who have lost unborn children, the children around us (even if they aren't from our own womb) are even more precious.
-Too many clouds mean that our rain tanks are full. I don't take the abundance of water for granted.
-Most wives don't get to enjoy their husbands working from home most days. Aaron's absence makes his presence even sweeter.
-I am grateful that we have items to share with our neighbors, to increase the quality of their lives just a fraction, and to have the opportunity to remind them that God is the ultimate source of gifts.
-Our teenagers thrive in singing with the choir and building relationships. Participating in the community just lights them up. One of our goals as parents is to raise them to appreciate both their adopted culture and their passport culture and to live in both equally well.
-Our neighbors provide an abundant market for us, so our bodies are not starved for fruits and veggies, even when our pineapples aren't where we anticipated them to be.