What You've Been Waiting For

The last Christmas preparations were just about finished. It had been a fruitful time of waiting. But then, ten years makes for a long Advent.

Traditionally, the Church encourages this Advent, this season of waiting and preparing for our Lord's coming at Christmas to prepare our hearts for His coming. The readings during this season draw us out of ourselves and ask us to look deeper, to make way for the Spirit of the Lord in the joyous season of Christmas.

As I reflected on Christmas Eve of 2010, it seem almost impossible that ten years ago that very night, my siblings and I were with trying our best to ‘walk’ with our mother in her last comatose hours on this earth. Just remembering brings me right back to the events of that weekend.

Christmas Eve has always been spent with my in-laws; Christmas Day with my family. That weekend was no different. But, on this particular night I was understandably just not able to celebrate with my husband's family as my mother lie in a coma at her home by her request, just a few miles away. I quietly slipped away and joined one of my sisters at Mom's bedside.

Music played softly in the room while Mom rested in a space far from us. I lay down on the sofa next to her bed, taking comfort from being in the same room with her just once more. As it happened, one of her favorite hymns began. "How Great Thou Art" slowly streamed from one of the CD's we had brought in during this time knowing how much she loved music. As all the memories of her singing this same tune beautifully in church so many times washed over me, I glanced over at her longing to hear her sing just once more.

Instead of her voice, I discovered that even here in this state, her emotion for this song remained. Tears that were nowhere present just moments before fell from her eyes. Somewhere, she was hearing this favorite once more and perhaps singing--though now in a voice that was not audible to me. This time, she was singing for her Savior. She was at peace in a place we don’t quite understand. I stayed for another hour or so and then returned to the celebration not far away.

A few short hours later, with my brother at her side, she slipped away. With this bright star who we had thought healthy just five months before now gone, we gathered at her bedside to pray before the funeral home came to assist. One by one, everyone left. It was Christmas morning, and everyone had somewhere to be. I found it hard to leave at that moment, so I poured a cup of tea and stayed for a while. Trying to collect my thoughts on all that had transpired over the last few months; trying to take it all in.

This was why He came.

Ten years later I have made peace with Christmas again. For these many years, just getting out the decorations made all of the sorrow flood back again. Only with great effort did I participate in any Christmas ‘cheer’. Then, having been surrounded with my own family, all of the joyous things of the season were carefully put away as was my angst at loosing Mom at such a time and the stressful ‘preparation’ for her parting.

What became clear to me this Christmas, 2010- was simply this. We are not home yet. Life is the preparation. Christ came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly. Just as my Mother was surrounded by the people, the music and the Lord she loved all the way through her passing, God invites us to a more intimate relationship with him if only we would let Him in. For Christmas, for the new year, for life—let our center and our peace be in Him.

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