When I was in labor with my third child, my older sister was bewildered by my pain. As I walked the hall of our two-story row house in southwest Philadelphia, seeking moments of comfort between birth pool and bed, couch and floor, she said to me, “But, you’ve already done this before. Why is it so hard?”
“I haven’t birthed this baby!” I cried out to her. Then I settled into a deep silence, preparing myself for the next wave, the next earth-shaking moan.
Our souls are crying out this Advent of 2020. We want to call this season the coldest, these times the most hostile, this ache unbearable.
And it is true. We are saturated with the names of the dead, no longer shocked by callous leaders or the collective amnesia that refuses responsibility for ongoing systems of oppression.
Though history and our theology will remind us that empires fall, that pandemics cease, that justice will prevail, such awareness doesn’t diminish the pain of raw grief, this collective lament. We haven’t celebrated Christmas this year; how can we even begin?
I do not know how hope still shivers through my bones. I do not know how to unclench rage-tight teeth. I do not know how to look at this war-soaked, warming planet and believe that the Author of Peace is weeping and raging with us and making straight these deeply crooked and corrupt paths.