The Willow & War Blog

Advent Week 3: Presence

The journal was removed from its leather sleeve and casually tucked in a corner of the workshop, beneath flakes of dried pipe tobacco and sawdust.

The card stock cover provided no context so opening to an entry from Christmas a few years ago was a surprise. It wasn't much writing. A few lines. Words scrawled hastily across a cramped page. A confession.

Too many gifts.

Not enough presence.

A time for reflection becomes a mad dash of color and light; a feeding frenzy for consumers of trivial things. Consideration and celebration are exchanged for a cheap plastic cradle and we move the star from above the stable to dangle it over a sack of toys like a carrot.

But the gifts are good. Giving is good.

Only, not at the expense of the gift.

The hope and promise.

I don’t want to see shreds of wrapping paper like breadcrumbs tracing back to when we should have bathed ourselves in the hope of a newborn king. To miss the grace is too great a risk. To enter Advent as dusty sojourners and not come out the end as light-bringers is a tragedy.

This is our chance to reclaim the glitzy warp-speed world for the manger. This is our chance to remember how the darkness froze in terror at the sounds of birthing from a stable. Mary’s groaning. First cries of life.

While people inside the inn ate, or argued, slept, or worried, on the other side of the wall, the king came unto us.

The stable is where you find us, the ones who pine for mercy. In the quiet corner, on the silent night, when hope came unto us.

Here we are, Lord. No lights but the stars. No sounds but our feet shifting on the hay.

Nothing but the presence.

And that is the gift.