How often during this never-ending season of waiting for the pandemic to be declared behind us have I used the excuse, “I’ll deal with [whatever I’m avoiding] when this is over!”? I’m almost nostalgic about the days when we still imagined that the disruption of life was truly only temporary, perhaps a week or two. But it isn’t over. And, after reading the latest public health updates, this doesn’t even seem like something within reach, now or ever.
Last week, Anne and I traveled to northern California so that we could gather with family as we attended her uncle’s funeral. He had lived most of his adult life in and around Lake County, a place that, like his North Dakotan childhood, is built on a vibrant agricultural economy. Like so much of this world, the seasonal rhythms of planting and harvest define much of life.
The list is long. Even if we have many negatives, the list to be thankful for is longer. The plenty we have in front of us is indeed a great plenty even if we momentarily think of something missing, wrong or not perfect. We have plenty. We are thankful.
It’s Thanksgiving week in America.
It has been a rough 20 months with no clear end or return to something close to old patterns. With all this stress, we do not hear, “Thank you,” “Thanks,” or something similar often enough. Even pre-pandemic, we did not hear it often enough. While I try to remember to say thanks, I do not remember every time. Or later I do not remember if I did. In the rush of leaving, the busyness of the day, concerns elsewhere, I forget. I’m human.
A great light. Advent starts.
Even though we know the story, we try to put ourselves in the anticipation mood. In our current pandemic-economic-political situation, maybe we are more in a wishing mood, a cry-for-help mood.
“Those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2)
These words welcome us into the Advent season. This year especially we may feel like we’re living in darkness. Not only are the days shorter but the pandemic lingers on, the climate is a mess, the economy is uncertain, politics are messy, Covid numbers continue to rise. It may feel like we are without hope.