What Are We Waiting For?

Photo credit, Pexels: Adonyi Gábor

“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other- things that are of no real consequence- the door is shut, and can be opened only from the outside.”

Dietrech Bonhoeffer

A few days ago, Larry came in from hanging the Christmas lights on the newly painted house. 

He said, “this guy was walking by with a dog, and he said he used to live here.”

I say, “In our house?” (mind you, we’ve been here almost 33 years)

“Yeah, it was his grandmother’s at the time, and he lived with her for a while. In fact, his son was born here, but that was a long time ago, and now he lives in South Carolina. He said his dad still lives around the corner, and he came out to care for him.”

“I remember his grandmother. She dropped by in her new Cadillac after we bought the house. She wanted to see what we changed.”

I imagine the house was not as he remembered. New color, added rooms, and modernized throughout, but I also imagine it was much the same, and those old stories from his time living in this space are probably still rattling around in his brain. 

And that’s what I want to talk about. The radical aspects of advent, how it opens doors, not the ones decorated with a wreath, the ones with bars, the ones that imprison you.

Advent is upon us once again, and the interesting thing about this word is we adopted it from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival. Traditionally speaking, it’s about waiting in glorious hope for Christ to appear not only in the nativity but in our hearts and, most of all, for Christ’s encore performance, often referred to as his second coming.

Christmas is both a story and an invitation. It is a story about hope and the possibility of a new world order based on compassion, forgiveness, and love, but also an invitation that was written directly to us.

What if the thing we’re waiting for is not something that can be purchased at the mall, on Black Friday, or on Cyber Monday? What if the thing we’re waiting for is something that we adopt? 

Because honestly, I’m sick of the old stories rattling around in my brain. You know the ones? She’s loud, obnoxious, self-focused, overly sensitive, she drinks too much, she’s hurtful, stubborn, unforgiving, uninformed, and on and on it goes. 

Rarely do you hear a story about one’s sacrifices, compassion, kindness, optimism, gentle heart, service, or ability to validate others, to listen, to evolve? 

Sadly, we like to focus on each other’s faults, unless you’re my sister, who we all refer to as angelic. The truth is you will never know the fullness of someone’s pain or suffering because we tend to camouflage those experiences with silence, half-truths, or outright lies.

I know I do.

We’re an opinionated species. We rarely agree on anything, especially our memories. Remember the stories that circled your thanksgiving table (or any family dinner) and how everyone’s recall of the same event was radically different. Depending on the pitch, anyone’s life can be a raging success or a dismal failure. 

But what is most true?

I’m beginning to think it’s unimportant. It’s like watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver and holding Ken Osmond [Eddie Haskell] hostage to a mischievous and two-faced narrative. He was playing a part. Right? Aren’t we all? 

What is important is what you do next.

And it’s not for anyone else to decide? Screw them. You get to decide who you want to be. How you want to act. And who you want in your life. And I totally agree. It’s not simple. We’re too interconnected, culturally defined, and woefully indoctrinated to make it simple. But untangle all the perceived “obligations,” and it’s just you and an unimagined future.

Maybe Advent is an opportunity to adopt a new story about yourself. The one that you have grown into and to dump the one you’ve been dragging around, the one that no longer fits, the one you’ve been told. 

Not that it didn’t happen, but it’s no longer relative or a true depiction of who you are today.

It takes enormous courage and bravery to accept a new portrayal of yourself because we are constantly reminded of what others think of us. And that’s just bullshit. If we could silence the voices in our heads and let go of the labels we’ve been assigned and the harsh judgments…we could forge a new future, the one we’re waiting for, the one we crucified Jesus for suggesting was possible. 

Yes, that’s how attached we are to our old stories.

Maybe Advent is a time to get quiet and listen. Let new words form around your soul. Start with I am good. I am loveable. I am worthy. 

Think about this, every time you open your mouth, you are spreading darkness or light. I just returned from the desert, and I have seen how darkness is dispelled when the light arrives. It’s referred to as sunrise, and we never tire of it. 

I don’t care what you think about God, if God is just a story we won’t let go of, or if God is still influencing (pushing his way into) our world. But let me just say this, no one expected Jesus. He was born at the most unlikely of times, in an unlikely place, and the words out of his mouth were ones of radical change. They were challenging, illuminating, and, dare I say, “life-saving.”

We are living in difficult times, the collective rage is gaining on the collective love, and yet we continue to throw millions of dollars at material objects in a desperate attempt to redeem ourselves, to celebrate the birth of a child to an unwed mother, one who from all accounts was poor, from the wrong side of town, and yet we’re still talking about him. Why? Because we need hope. I’m talking prodigious hope. More than our iPhones, credit cards, and politicians are able to give us.

What if this year, we forget all the wrappings of Christmas and reach for the real message? 

We don’t have to live with our old story. There is another possibility. It’s fairly good news because, from my perspective, God is not going to stop, retreat, or give up on us. God is the mother of all mothers with a bunch of unruly kids. But it’s also not going to happen the way we have it mapped out. It’s not going to happen in the prison of our old stories. 

It going to be miraculous because that is how God rolls.

It’s going to be such a wild, unbelievable tale that you will find it hard to recognize yourself in the words. This is what advent is all about, adopting a new narrative and seeing yourself from the perspective of the one who loves you umbilically, unconditionally, and for all eternity. God is not done with you by a long shot, and I believe God wants us all to know…

We are good. We are loveable. We are worthy.

This year let’s go out and gift each other with a new personification. Be the one that lets your light shine before others, that they may see your goodness, and in hearing you, they hear the voice of all that is good and holy. And somehow, by the miracle of you, they are able to adopt a new story, a new future, a new vision of who they really are and who they were meant to be. 

Now that’s worth talking about! 

I’m still Living in the Gap, but I’m feeling the need to hibernate for a while, come back when the winter in me thaws. How about you? Thank you for reading, responding, digging deeper, and adding so much to our mutual conversation. May I be so bold as to say, I love you, and may these next few weeks be ones of revelation, courage, and radical change.

My book is NOW available at Black Rose for preorder! If you are compelled to purchase a book or two prior to the publication date of February 23, 2023,  Grow Damn It!: The Feeding and Nurturing of Life, you get to use the promo code: PREORDER2022 to receive a 15% discount. Your pre-ordered copy will process and ship on or prior to the release date. So you get it first! Whoot! Hoot! This might be a proper occasion for champagne!

54 Comments

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      1. Everything seems to be one. There are peoples who have three meanings in a single punctuation mark: for whom God is and the number name: 1, and the conceptual unity that everything in the universe is One.

        In other words, all permanence and all development are one unified permanence and development.

        In other words, Everything is God’s dream. The universe, humanity, the individual person, the thought, the stone, the novel, the table are One. Wave nature Everything. God and the human soul are one. The planets, the stars, the living things, the light…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You have a beautiful way of seeing everything as a vision of God, all one, all reflecting the same light. Sometimes I feel that way, and then something gets my dander up and I’m absolutely positive the person of rancor could not possibly be connected to me. Then like the tides, I’ll flow in and out. What a joy it is to be alive.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m not religious but I have a deep spiritual side. And I am not a fan of the commercialized and hypocritical festivities that require purchasing items for the sake of purchasing items. I hear you on the collective rage, I feel the same sort of sentiments as well. Enjoy your break!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claudette. I think a lot of people are tired of the hypocritical celebrations but still searching for the right well from which to draw water. I listened to a podcast the other day that suggested that it didn’t matter what well you choose, it’s just a structure, but that the water below is all the same. That really resonated with me. Hugs, C

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Diane, it can be a touchy subject, everyone has their own understanding of God, or that God does not exist. I still think this dark, tranquil time of year, it a good place to consider what’s possible. I know I get stuck and need a nudge once in a while to move on. This was my nudge to all those who are feeling weighed down by unnecessary baggage. I was going for inspirational, not sure I landed it. Happy Holidays Diane, Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I know nothing of Advent, and I have never waited for the second coming of an historical figure. (Or anyone else) Despite that, I get the connection, and that’s because of your writing.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

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    1. Oh good! I was hoping to inspire not just believers but anyone who has been pinned down by a story, label, or judgment. I think this is the perfect time of year, with all the darkness, and cold to consider the idea that we are so much more than we’ve been told. Thanks for finding the connection. I so appreciate your generous nature. Hugs, C

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah, such sweet and kind words. I feel as if inspiration is hard to come by these days. The aftermath of the Covid restrictions, economical worries, political unrest, environmental concerns (I could go on and on) has created a general malaise in the population. I think we’re all feeling the effects of long-term stress with little hope in the forecast and it’s depressing. Thanks for diving in and connecting to the message. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I was going for subtle inspiration, then I got on a roll, and thank you for saying I didn’t land on the pulpit! May we all feel our goodness, lovability, and worth as we emerge from the blessed darkness. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I imagine that you know how profound your words are, Cheryl: “You get to decide who you want to be. How you want to act. And who you want in your life.” We are the inventors of our lives, and we have the power to reinvent ourselves each minute. It’s wonderful and totally scary because it gives each of us all the responsibility for our lives. It’s a superpower and we should use it. Wonderful post and great challenge. Happy Advent. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really appreciate how you responded to this post Diana, “It’s wonderful and totally scary because it gives each of us the responsibility for our lives.” I think fear holds us back, the known is always preferable to the unknown, and I know I’ll stay in places I don’t need to be far longer than necessary. When you think about it, “the power to reinvent ourselves,” can be both a curse and a blessing, but always glaringly available. So I guess the questions remain, who do I want to be, how should I act, and who’s going with me. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I face the same questions and fear of reinvention. 😀 “I can’t because….” is such a handy response when we’re faced with our own power. Perhaps one small step, one day at a time will also get us there. Or make the big leap less big! Here’s to leaping in 2023!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Post response to living in the gap 12.1.22

    Oh my. . . That was incredible. Where to start??? Best parts for me:

    1. “Why? Because we need hope. I’m talking prodigious hope. More than our iPhones, credit cards, and politicians are able to give us”. Bravo! And AMEN.

    2. “What if this year, we forget all the wrappings of Christmas and reach for the real message?” Channeling C.S. Lewis here, and splendidly so 🙂.

    3. “This year let’s go out and gift each other with a new personification.” this one is my ‘favorite of favorites’, to be sure because to me? Apparently, you have already started your new persona with this essay.

    So, Please, please ‘DO’ continue in this persona, in this style. Simply take your gift of prose and focus on the only thing that is truly real in our lives. The only thing that makes sense of all the chaos, madness, mystery, joy, and sorrow present in this world. What would that “only thing” be?

    To acknowledge and live every moment of your life in the eternal truth of this place: “We are only here to prove our character to God”.

    Every situation that provoked us to action or passive ambivalence; to react with evil, or to choose kindness; every decision that led us to perceived failure or success. . .

    They have all been delicately laid in our path so that we may exercise our free will to prove our character to God. Simple as that.

    Can’t wait to read more of the new you.

    Happy Holidays Neighbor.

    Pax Christi, C.T.

    P.S. Carrie Underwood and that song? – Magnifique mon voisin Pèlerin!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Chris, such significant observations, as always! I appreciate your vision of life, “to prove our character,” and I would like to add “to improve our character” almost daily if you happen to be me. I guess see the challenges as opportunities. If not, it’s just way too much to deal with, and it can appear unnecessary, or worse, as if you’re Job. The thing I’m slowly learning is you can’t change anyone else but yourself, although I try and continue to fail. Even our children, who I think I still have parental rights over, are on their own path, their own trajectory, their own self-improvement program. And this too is good. Happy Holidays Chris and Terrie! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not religious, but in the past my favorite prayer when things went wrong was,
    “Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity. I sure hope you know what You are doing.”
    Acceptance and a sense of humor makes changing easier to do.

    One of my favorite quotes is,
    “Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.”
    ― Kathleen Norris

    You are embarking on a great adventure. Please notice the details and share them with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Cheerful Monk! I love the observation “acceptance and a sense of humor makes changing easier!” So true and wise. Thank you for sharing the Kathleen Norris quote ~ that is how I view prayer too! I think we’re all embarking on an extraordinary journey and I so appreciate you joining me and adding to the conversation. All my best to you. Hugs, C

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  6. But what is most true?

    I resonate so much with your question here, Cheryl–thanks for your compelling invitation to step out of our strange, collective self-imposed smallness and into the largeness of Advent, God, and possibility. Your post brings this one by Rumi to mind (I hope you enjoy your time away, refilling your well):

    STRANGE BUSINESS

    You sit here for days saying,
    This is strange business.
    You’re the strange business.
    You have the energy of the sun in you,
    but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine.
    You’re some weird kind of gold that wants to stay melted in the furnace,
    so you won’t have to become coins.
    Say ONE in your lonesome house.
    Loving all the rest is hiding inside a lie.
    You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine.
    Taste this.
    It won’t make you wild.
    It’s fire. Give up, if you don’t understand by this time
    that your living is firewood.
    This wave of talking builds.
    Better we should not speak, but let it grow within.

    Rumi translated by Coleman Barks in The Illuminated Rumi

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mary Ellen! I love this line, “to step out of our strange, collective self-imposed smallness and into the largesness of Advent, God, and possibility.” Amen! That’s what I’m talking about. And oh that Rumi, how I would like to pick his brilliant brain, and find out about our living firewood that we keep knotted up at the base of our spine. This is what I do! Thank you Mary Ellen for adding your special touch to this conversation, for stretching me just a little more, and for wishing my restoration is enjoyable. I love that and I love you. Hugs, C

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  7. PREACH PREACH PREACH PREACH PREACH PREAHC!!!!!!!! CHERYL what the heck! I had to read this out loud and with attitude. This is the best thing I have read all year.
    I’m writing a new story for me and burying any pain I’m holding on to. I was just praying about letting go and then I read this.
    You are a blessing and a light!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Belladonna! I love how you get me, how you respond with attitude, how I can actually feel your energy coming through the words. Thank you for your kind words, you have know idea how much this means to me, and how many times I have gone back to read your comment again and again. We’re inching our way to the new year, it’s high time for a new chapter, and maybe if we unfurl our fists around all the crap we’re carrying, we would be light enough to fly! Soar….Thank you so much. Wrapping you in love and hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

  8. So thrilled for you and your new book Cheryl. I know everyone will love it! And how cool is it that a guy passes by and said he lived in your house decades ago? Life is truly a circle. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Debby, and I absolutely love your observation, “Life is truly a circle.” At my age, I see that again and again but often from a perspective of looking back instead of forward. It’s after the dust has settled that I see the full picture. This life seems as if a sandwich of pleasure, pain, and pining, with a splash of delicious adore. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your words resonate with me Cheryl and I agree entirely that we can choose a different path even if it is a difficult one, if it brings us to a better place. I think I was more likely to have come from pagan stock since I tend to connect more with the natural world, although I do appreciate that if a god had a hand in its creation they did an amazing job. Not sure they got it quite right with humans, especially giving them free will since some have not quite got the hang of goodwill to all men. However I do look upon this time of year as an opportunity to look at the lessons this past year has brought and how they will carry forward positively in the next. 46 years ago at age 24 I did just that against the wishes of everyone that I knew. It turned out much better than I expected after some speedbumps in the road, but it was liberating and taught me a great deal about life. ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sally, your words resonate with me, because as you note, “we can choose a different path even if it is a difficult one.” That is often the only choice we have. If you come from pagan stock, then so do I, because the natural world holds so much appeal for me. It is where I go for inspiration, solace, and most often worship. I understand God best in the construct of nature. You made such a brave decision at 24 years of age, one that was clearly in your best interest, something you just knew you had to do. That inspires us all to be brave, courageous, and to listen to our own internal wisdom, and not the expectations of society, others, even friends. Life is such a good teacher, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

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