To the Ones Who Wait

From Tell the Turning, 2021

Goodness knows, I revel in the Christmas season. Familiar and loved music*, trees indoors, candles everywhere: the season of light-in-darkness.

Possibly even more, I love the Advent season that precedes it—which, by the calendar I keep, is where we are now. It’s an anticipatory season, but it’s not all joy. There’s a lot of uncertainty in Advent. It’s the season of just-darkness, before the light returns.

Maybe I like it for its honesty: the uncertain dark is the territory where each of us has to live whole swathes of our lives. That fact cannot be escaped. So it helps — it helps me, at least— to ritualize that encounter with the dark and uncertain, sinking into it as the solar year wanes to its longest night.

By that same token, this is the season of trusting-that-the-light-is-absolutely-going-to-return. So there’s the joy. That twined uncertainty and excitement, maybe with a little questioning, and a little grief or sorrow in the mix, wrapped up in awareness of our human smallness but equally of our human depth, is such a purely alive state. An un-shiftable reality of what we are.

I wrote this poem for that. For me. For you.

*Or loathed music. I bet you’ll have no trouble coming up with a least-favorite Christmas song. I’ve got a list.

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