Devotional for Advent IA: We Interrupt This Broadcast… -or- Trending: #Jesus

In order to understand the past, you have to understand the future.

It was October 2nd, 2016 that I was sitting at my computer, completely in the writing zone, typing 80wpm, when my sister called me to tell me that my mother was dead.

Two weeks earlier, I texted her to call me ASAP. This was not, in fact, a good idea. I wanted to ask her if I should just get in my car and drive down because she broke her foot and my dad was going through a series of surgeries. It was, like, 9:45 and I just wanted to talk to her early enough that I could stil get going depending on her counsel. I emotionally “fell asleep at the wheel,” because why did I have to base it on permission- or at the very least, approval and a heads up that I was on the road? For some reason, she didn’t get the message until 2:30 in the afternoon and by then thought I was mangled horribly or dead. She called me, and I didn’t reach the phone in time. I called her back, and she was on the phone with my sister trying to decide just how much danger I was in. In retrospect, I should have known that if I wrote “as soon as possible,” it didn’t mean “as soon as possible.” It means that I am telling you I am getting mugged at this very moment.

I didn’t keep watch.

I slept through my life as my father recovered from surgery and my mother died instantly. If I’d listened to my intuition, I would have been there. I could have done something… not to save my mother or heal my father but to just be there when our world exploded. My sister needed me and I needed her. There’s no way I could have known that I was coming home to a funeral, but at least I would have been there in minutes and not hours, getting to spend two weeks memorizing my mother’s face before it was embalmed and never the same. Before she died, it had been a year since she’d visited.

I didn’t keep watch.

It only took one crack in the foundation of my marriages to let the water flow through and erode the cornerstone. I buried myself in other things, convinced that there was no such thing as a Schonanagan or a Bambelanager divorce. Through the years, we’d developed an intricate emotional shorthand and a language all our own. We could have entire conversations with our eyes, as well as conversations no one else in the room would understand… to their consternation that we were just being too “inside.” There were plenty of things wrong that I own, but I do not own that our marriages came apart in one moment. The last moment was just the last moment. Kathleen and I were married for 11 mos, but we’d been together three and a half years before that. Dana and I were married for seven years, having an intense best-friend relationship for almost four years before that which didn’t make a lot of appreciable difference in our relationship after we married except for about a third…………….

The roots withered on our family trees while I was completely oblivious to the role I was playing in all of it. Those things that could have been small, but grew into great big things before I paid attention.

I didn’t keep watch.

From the very first moment I met Argo, her words were strong, secure- so much love and respect that if I could have bottled it I would have used it as hair product. By the time I told her flat out I can’t do this anymore. I have feelings for you and I cannot continue to be friends and stay married to someone else. I can’t look at myself in the mirror, she told me that I was tossing away a friendship like it was nothing. She was willing to let me have my feelings and let them be large and watch the process it would take for me not to feel them anymore. I assumed that the energy I was throwing at her was not the kind of energy she wanted in her general direction, and the assumption cost me, because I stupidly didn’t realize how much I meant to her and how much she was willing to try and understand, even when it seemed impossible. She was willing to walk in my inner landscape as long as I was willing to walk in hers. Again, a crack in our foundation that allowed the water to disfigure our rock.

I didn’t keep watch.

I’ve let friendships go that would have been lasting because I didn’t recognize their depth of feeling for me and let go in my own worthlessness… I could not see that I was worth their time, but they could. I was so attuned to how I felt that it kept out what would have been enormous had I taken it in. I could have had the support system I needed no matter where I’ve lived, but I could not trust myself to open up to create it. My personality type dictates that I have lots of acquaintances and very few friends, so the idea of reaching out to people I did not know well was intimidating.

I attended a youth group trip to an amusement park minutes after Diane’s graduate school going away recital was over. I was crying so hard I couldn’t stand up straight, embarrassed to be emoting publicly and my parents made me go, anyway. Instead of trying to shut off my brain and reach out to the people around me, I went straight from distraught to show mode, because I was fine. I was not open to friendship, because I couldn’t focus on what might be coming… friends my own age who could help me re-focus on eighth grade banalities so that they became reality again.

I didn’t keep watch.

In this first Sunday of Advent, it is this very idea to which we are called, for we do not know when the Son of Man will be lifted up. Our meditations center on the ways we’ve checked out of our own lives, shutting ourselves off to the possibility of what might happen. There is a lot of language about how we, as Christians, need to behave… but they are not just for Christians. It is not a calling out of immorality, but a refusal to do those things which allow you to zone out the easiest. Perhaps in those days, it would have been taken that way, but I have to believe that it is just an example of how not to live our lives with only the instructions on the shampoo bottle… Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

As the sun grows darker, we turn inward, but not in a penitential sense… it is a call to arms, apocalyptic language that says to examine what you are doing that will keep you from recognition of greatness when it arrives. There are two scriptures, taken together, that are our invitations and anthems:

Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Matthew 24:36-44

The disciples did not know when Jesus was coming back, and did not think it was going to be in their lifetimes. The Epistle, written in the spirit of Paul, attests to this fact because Matthew was not written down until about 50 years after Jesus’ death, borrowing heavily from Mark, indicating that according to everything this “early blogger” had read, we’re still waiting. Note to self: put on pants.

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Romans 13:11-14

It is a story repeated through time.

If you get there,
before I do,
comin’ for to carry me home…

Tell all my friends
I’m comin’ too
Comin’ for to carry me home.

Who are those children all dressed in Blue?
God’s gonna trouble the water.
Must be the ones that made it through.
God’s gonna trouble the water.

To the Freedom Fighters call,
Black, Brown and White American say,
Segregation must fall.
Good evening freedom’s fighters,
Tell me where you’re bound,
Tell me where you’re marching,
From Selma to Montgomery town.

Keep your mind sharp, your bags packed, and your sandals on your feet, because you never know when something is about to happen.

In order to understand the past, you have to understand the future.

Some people were not open to the glorious signs all around them, asleep to the rest of the world. Love arrived with the simple words “I’m pregnant,” such an ordinary thing few would have paid much mind…. unless they’re the family that’s expecting.

We have the advantage of knowing we are. I’ll meet you at the hospital.

I’m keeping watch.



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