advent week 1: hope
These days should be rich with meaning! I am pregnant right along with Mary, due only eight days after Christ himself was born. I should feel this Advent all the more forcefully—and really feel it: feel the waiting in my body as it grows fuller, nearly to the point of bursting.
But I do not. The layers of meaning sit there, unmined; the resonance with Mary, unfelt. Was it the warm November? Have I been thrown off by the new environment and schedule that I’m still unaccustomed to? Where is my Christmas spirit? And where is my baby spirit?
When I confessed to Dan my lack of anticipation, he assured me that perhaps the not-feeling has something spiritual to teach me. Maybe we’re not always waiting with eager anticipation. We don’t always have a clear idea of what to hope for.
So much of my emotion about our coming daughter is simply blank, unclaimed. I’m neither excited nor fearful—I simply have no feeling about it. I don’t know what to feel because it’s utterly new to me. What are the proper emotions for an expectant mother? Not knowing, I go about my business, feeling nothing.
Is this how Mary felt, too? Did she feel swollen as the moon, ready for the dawn from on high to break upon her body and the world, or did she just have a worse-than-usual backache that was too mundane to attribute to the growing body of the Savior of the world? Was she keenly aware of the meaning of her pregnancy, or just as ignorant as I am? Was she full of hope as her belly grew big and her sleep became restless, as she waited out a Braxton Hicks contraction (and later on, a real one), as she watched the drum of her stomach slither and shift—or were those just the odd symptoms of a completely natural process?
I want to have hope: both for our baby and for the coming of the Christ-child.
It helped a bit that we got to meet our brand-new niece, who gave us a little glimpse of the sweetness that’s in store.
It helped that we spent Thanksgiving with my grandmothers, who recounted their own stories of labor and birth, who hadn’t seen my belly yet and delighted in it in ways I’ve taken for granted.
I may not be waiting with great hope, but I’m certainly waiting. Our little babe will be here yet. And Christ will come.