My husband’s grandmother turned 92 last week, and while we sat next to each other on the couch, she rubbed the kicking baby beneath my skin.  I wanted her to feel that squirming little life, because she can’t hear or see well. After our unborn daughter rolled inside me, Louise told me she’d live to see her next great-grandchild. Because I’ve cauterized a lot of the outlets of my emotion in the last two years, I made a joke.

“You said that last time, Louise. I think I’m done having kids. You’re going to have to find something else, because we want you around.”

I’m not hopeful like I used to be. It’s embarrassing, but it takes so much faith to believe something you want, something you work and wait and pray for, will actually happen. Hope gets whitewashed as flippant wishing, but committing to waiting for the possibility of disappointment is excruciating and exhausting.

This Advent, I’ve been thinking about the weight of hope, and the story of Simeon and Anna inspires me. Their persistent hope was rewarded with a glimpse of the Christ. What a simple, pure thing. They wanted to see God incarnate so much that it carried them into old age. But not everyone gets that kind of relief, even after years of patient longing.

Some of the angriest, most wounded people I know have had the highest hopes. They expected much more from life, particularly from their faith or God. Underneath every one of my disappointments or longstanding fights with rage lies a hope — smothered or forgotten at best. Hope carries an incredible risk of facing what you’re going to do and who you’ll be when you don’t live to see your greatest hopes realized.

 

I hope to write more Advent reflections and return to more regular blog entries. It’s been a long time.