When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negev.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
Shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
It’s a hard time of year for many of us. The darkness of short days seems not just a fact of nature but a metaphor for feelings of loneliness and loss. We dwell upon the wish for sun as some of us rise before the sun and return home after the subsiding into night again, so the sun evades us like a debtor but darkness lingers like an unwanted visitor. This time of year is a time of darkness, and we dream of a glorious return of spring with its promise of so many possibilities.
It is the third week of Advent, and we wait upon the point of a memory of new life that was and is and ever shall be.
We know our waiting holds forth the promise of life for the barren fields and the promise of love for our barren hearts, as the Lord of Love Himself asks us to make straight the way in the wilderness of all our willfulness and selfishness and pettiness. If only we allow ourselves to remember, we could know that the snow and ice of winter will subside to leaf and bloom. If we let go of the chill that invades our hearts as we feel so lost and alone in the darkness, we know that He is coming indeed just when we need him the most.
Our hearts become like the watercourses of the Negev—hardened arroyos in a dry land, and when suddenly the rain does come, the ground has not ability to absorb it. Ground becomes not sponge but vessel, filled to overflowing—holding enough that the land can bloom even in a desert. Instead of vanishing below-ground, the rain cascades down those arroyos, going from emptiness to abundance in the flash of an instant. And for weeks the water can be used to bring forth crops in the barren places.
We long to be like those who dream, who trust that when the Morning Star rises we will again remember the joy that merely waits for us to open our hearts and let it reign over us. We will awaken after our long night into the Light given to us through the grace and love of God. God be praised, our waiting is almost fulfilled. Alleluia!
The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO. She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.