Empty seasons

December has been slower than I thought it would be. There were parties and concerts and the like, yes. But The pace has felt  different than in years past. The month hasn’t rushed by, glittering and whirring and constantly on the go. Instead, it’s crept along–sortof hanging back, taking one slow step at a time, never making it very far.

The shopping was done early. My advent devotional sits by my favorite chair for reading in the early morning light. My penguin mug is filled with hot liquids whenever possible, and my grandmother’s quilt is rarely put away. The tree is lit. The gifts are wrapped. Music floats through the house. And still I feel like I’m waiting for the beginning. This season of preparation doesn’t feel like the moving and stretching and growing work that normally comes. There is no joyful anticipation or happy peace. Instead, I feel like I’m standing still, just waiting for something to happen. Something I might not even recognize when it comes, because I don’t know what it is.

When I get frustrated with my lack of holiday cheer, like I am right now, I try to remember that feelings aren’t a good measurement. Emotions are like waves–they may roll and toss, rise and fall, but their presence or absence doesn’t change the fact of the ocean itself. Whether I feel the “spirit of the season” in me or not doesn’t change the fact that it’s here, doesn’t add to or detract from the meaning of God with us. In fact, not feeling the holiday glow is perhaps the best illustration of what the season truly means: he came because he loved me, not because I did anything to merit it. Not because I decorated the right way, checked off all the activities on my to-do list, baked the pretty cookies, watched the cheery movies, played the right music, or walked around with the warm fuzzies in my chest for four weeks. Even if I did none of it–even if I intentionally Grinched it up to the best of my ability–he still would have come.

So when I feel the inner rumblings reacting to my inability to feel the right things, I have to close my eyes and whisper to my heart that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the ocean. He still came, he still comes. He is still there, and he holds it all together.

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