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Eclipse. (c) 2017 Trina Lambert

Advent is all about waiting—but this year, despite the arrival of Thanksgiving and the busy shopping season it ushers in, we are still lingering in a form of calendar limbo. Check it out: Calendar A for the previous liturgical year ended on November 26 with Christ the King Sunday, but Calendar B for the coming liturgical year starts with Advent on December 3. So where are we now on November 29? Waiting for the waiting?

And, yet, it is so ironic that while we wait and prepare for the season of giving, our screens are filled with stories of people who go through life taking, in one form or another—just as in the days when the Chosen People were awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. They thought they were getting a Messiah to come to fight overarching power with power—but what they got was a baby, which is pretty much the opposite of power. Then after they waited for him to grow to become a man, he spent his time with them telling them to take on power—by loving and giving? Can you imagine?

Sometimes it feels as if we have no idea how to help those who are hurting or how to go about confronting the powerful forces that would keep taking from the world. But we need to remember that we do have an idea—it’s simply to love and give. That’s it—each of us has to figure out for ourselves how we’re going to go about doing that loving and giving—and bringing about light in a world full of darkness. That’s the kind of power we can claim without harming others—and we don’t even have to wait—not for Advent, not for Christmas, not for any day on any calendar.

Imagine the brilliance of our combined light.

Oh, Lord, help us to turn on that light—now.


(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

This month has gone by in a blur! Buying another car, Sherman’s dad falling and needing surgery again, our daughter applying (and getting accepted) to the drawing program at college, traveling by car to Oklahoma to help with a wedding, attending that wedding, our son rehearsing for a play next week, both kids on break from college this week, and the Thanksgiving celebration with family. Here we are already on the last day of November, facing the arrival of both December and the Advent season tomorrow. Yikes.

Boy, am I glad that in our home we get to celebrate the quiet Advent season before it’s really Christmas. No Black Friday (Black Thanksgiving??!!) shopping for us, unless we must count that trip to the art store to find supplies for our daughter’s future projects.

The mild weather here has helped me stay in an autumnal mood. Didn’t want to go back inside after my run on Tuesday so instead I continued to “earn” my sunshine by performing (really) late season weeding. Thanksgiving Day we made sure to get out on the path with our dogs before we needed to prepare dinner items—and we weren’t the only ones since the paths were filled with families and their pups. Today we tried out another new path close to the rehab center where we visit Sherman’s father.

Nope, I’m not going to buy into the Christmas rush yet. After our crazy-busy November, I’m especially glad for the rest I can find in being an Advent person who believes that good is worth the wait.

Oh yes, I need a little Advent to remember just exactly Who it is for Whom I wait.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Here we are again in the Advent season (the December days leading up to Christmas), waiting for the Light to come into this world. I’m busy trying to take my time about jumping into the Christmas season. If you look around my house, you will know I have succeeded here!

Due to a lifelong focus on celebrating Advent, I rarely decorate for Christmas this early. What a difference there is in a year, though. I would say there is more hope in our home this December, even though it would be hard to see it if you were expecting this home to be decorated for Christmas by now.

The most obvious change in the house since last year is that my parents’ remaining items (the ones about which I have not yet made decisions regarding their fates) are not making a limbo of the living spaces, but are relegated to storage areas. Any disorganization in the living room comes from our everyday present life: laundry to fold or books being read or toys pulled out by dogs. The new window blinds regularly allow the sun to shine in, leading the way to the dawning of a new era here. You see, it’s not so dark in here anymore these days as we wait for the Light.

Sunday in church we once more heard the words about making the crooked straight and I thought, “That’s about me!” I mean, my body is now more straight than crooked. Last year I needed to approach Sunday morning church choir activities as if they were athletic events. I had to do warm-up exercises first thing at home if I wanted to survive all the standing, sitting, and walking required for singing in choir. And no matter what, I came home exhausted and in pain.

No, now I can sit and stand as expected, not needing to fidget in search of a better position or not having to do subtle exercises to make it through services.

I can also see more clearly how the seemingly-crooked paths my children have taken are straighter than they appear on the surface.

Even my mother who comes in my nighttime dreams is more often the mother I knew than the one lost in the darkness of her last years.

Maybe making straight my crooked body has let in enough sunshine to make straight the crooked ways of my heart and mind, too. At the same time, I understand better that sometimes you just have to believe you’ll make it through the darkness—and do what you can to wait patiently for the Light.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Two years ago my good, old trusty Kenmore dryer stopped running—right in the middle of winter when my clothesline is none too helpful. I wasn’t quite ready to move up appliance-wise, so I just replaced the washer/dryer set with one from a reliable used appliance store. However, I soon discovered that my replacement set was the budget version of my previous set—it was never designed to be as good as what I had owned.

That mattered most with the dryer and doing loads such as the jeans from our now fully-grown family of four. Doing laundry just took longer. Not exactly what I needed with so much of my focus on my mother. Then again, the kids left for college about seven months later, so we got by most of the time.

The kids’ return last summer reminded me just how slowly the dryer did its job. And because our dryer made doing a dull job even less appealing, the kids didn’t do their laundry much. It made me crazy to have so much dirty clothing in the house. Still, I wasn’t ready to upgrade yet.

That is until we knew that Jackson would not be returning to college after Christmas. It’s hard enough to figure out how to live together after living apart. What we don’t need is any additional burdens from using inefficient equipment that increases the time necessary for doing chores that no one really wants to do anyway.

My solution? Re-organize the laundry room and start the new year/new living arrangement with a spiffy new dryer to encourage regular laundry routines.

Great plan except that new dryer doesn’t seem to dry. Really. We’ve reattached it, cleaned out all the lint connections, tried pushing the buttons in different ways, etc. The sensor drying phase shuts off after two minutes—no matter what. And the timed drying phase just tumbles the clothes as dictated—if there is heat, it only comes after about three hours of constant use.

My daughter worked through a load of laundry with the old dryer, but had to return to school with the rest of her dirty clothing.

And my son’s clothing? Still waiting, other than the few necessary pieces we’ve managed to have the patience to dry.

Today we have a Chinook wind blowing with a sixty-degree forecast—might have to break out that clothesline after all.

In the meanwhile, I’m waiting for the service person’s arrival—impatiently—he said he’ll be here in half an hour. (Thank goodness I got his call telling me he would be here solidly within the scheduled window right before I received the company’s robo-call saying the arrival might be delayed beyond the scheduled time—please tell me he knows more than the computer!) Had to wait almost a week for this appointment after our call—after we had waited a week and a half trying to figure out if we were doing anything wrong and could fix it ourselves.

Part of me wonders, how did we as a culture get here? The salesperson told us if they have to come out more than four times in the year, they will replace the appliance—and that does happen. Does this make any sense when these appliances are so expensive in the first place?

I’m definitely longing for that trusty old Kenmore that lasted around twenty years—and that didn’t have any computer parts, which meant my husband also performed any needed repairs himself.

Am I a Luddite if I say I think we’ve all been hung out to dry? I suppose I am, even if I’m not planning to smash up my new dryer—hey, I paid for it already. But, sorry, folks, this way is not better.

Maybe I’ll change my tune when I have a functioning new dryer and see how much more efficient it is with both energy usage and our time. Still, just in case, I’m glad we at least have a clothesline and no covenants to prevent us from using it.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

Shh—keep the noise levels down, OK? At least in our house we’re celebrating Advent—Christmas can wait—and it will.

According to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s website, “The season of Advent marks the beginning of the church year and comprises the four weeks before Christmas.” As New Year’s celebrations go, Advent is pretty low key—except for the lessons telling about John the Baptist and his apocalyptic warnings.

I am an Advent person, too. Unlike John, though, I don’t dress myself in camel-hair cloaks or eat locusts dipped in wild honey. But I do believe that by skipping the waiting and longing, the depth of Christmas is diluted.

Thus, I am that curmudgeon who snarls involuntarily when I hear Christmas music in stores long before Thanksgiving. No wonder most people want to stop celebrating Christmas right when it’s just beginning. Me, I’m only breaking out the Christmas tunes and decorations in the days before December 25.

The way we in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, you’d think Jesus was born in the Ritz Carlton, not in something less substantial than a barn. And, you’d think the story began and ended with his birth.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m OK with reasonable gift-giving, celebrations, decorations, etc., but I believe it’s easier to understand the true gift if you slow down enough to walk beside the very pregnant Mary as she rides that donkey toward her destiny. All the frantic activity of our current celebratory practices has developed as a way to distract ourselves from the darkness that comes with the long nights of December.

Some years my life really is in such a place of light that maybe I forget how much I need the true light that arrives with the babe in Bethlehem. But even in those joyful years, I try to delay some of the excitement so I’m not overly distracted from what matters during the season.

Other years, it’s easy to understand the concept of waiting for a light to shine hope into my own darkness. And while those are the times when I am tempted to call off the whole celebration, that’s when I need to remember this principle the most: the light comes for all, whether or not our burdens are heavy or light. It’s up to us to understand that the gift is bigger than the immediate fixes we want for ourselves or those we love whose journeys have turned hard.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

Good times or bad, I try to pull back from the machine and find ways to quiet myself. My techniques to nurture hopeful waiting are both physical—in the form of regular exercise—and spiritual.

I love that Advent’s color in our church tradition is a cool blue, signifying that hope. Blue is a color that doesn’t hurry—you can rest in blue. Blue understands that sometimes hearts get heavy. Blue is also Mary’s color.

Yet the craziness of our own household’s Thanksgiving weekends—so far—has frustrated my vow to start the first Sunday in Advent by lighting the first blue candle in our own home Advent candle-holder. One thing I can rely on, however, is receiving Pastor Ron Glusenkamp’s daily H20 Devos to align my sense of time with the calendar’s date (his post for today, December 6, is appropriately “blue” in tone.)

Eventually I set out the blue candles for these early December days, even if I don’t light them as I wish.

Yesterday in church I realized that the irony of having my mother in hospice means that what I wait for most this season in this year is for my mom to experience the light coming into this world by her leaving this world.

Thoughts like that also make me aware of needing just a little more light in my personal world in the days ahead.

So for now our tree stands simply lighted and “skirted” with a swath of blue fabric—before we pull out the rest of the Christmas trappings. I deliberately darken the room, then sit to watch the lights twinkle—while I wait.

And in that moment, once again I am an Advent person and all is calm. Come, Lord Jesus . . .

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

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