I enjoy Advent. I like to work with the texts each year for worship. I enjoy the variety although one of my preacher pals suggested that after the First Sunday of Advent, all else is repetition. He meant that once the repent and prepare concept was said once again that it's all a repeat through the rest of the season. I suppose he is correct but every year I become aware of a new slant/focus/hook for the preaching.
Years ago when the LH and I were trying to have children, I would read about Elizabeth and Mary and want to weep. All we wanted was a child and the Bible stories of infertile women encouraged me wildly. I was older, I was attempting to be a faithful Jesus follower and these stories of older women who were blessed with a child after the troubles of infertility were given their best dream. If one of the emphasis of Advent is waiting then I was becoming an expert.
Infertility treatment about twenty years ago meant long drives, ususally by myself, to a reproductive endocrinologist in another state. I liked my doctor there and didn't usually burst into tears until the drive home. One more gross invasion into either my body or personal life each time I visited the doctor. One more round of phone calls to family to say, "Not yet, but the Dr. Is trying one more thing."
During the desert years, I began a D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry degree, professional degree for post-seminary) and chose as my disseration, "Ministry with Infertile Couples." As usual, I enjoyed the research and study. Wasn't much out there at that time but I found what I could about other's perspectives on how infertility affects couples' spirituality. I was aware of my own sense of spiritual despair that I would be denied a child. I felt not exactly punished by God but rather felt that I was being sent to the mattresses of despair and didn't know why. I wanted a reason and I wanted that reason to be somekind of holy thing. (I went to a faith healer
up in the country who told me that the reason I didn't have a child is that no child wanted to be born into such a highly evolved mother but preferred to be born as a third world refugee. Oh puleeze! That's what I got for looking for truth on a dirt road upstate in Backwater. I knew better, I was just digging for help.)
Looking back, I am aware that God's timing is not the same thing as my "wants" timetable. The LS came, then the LD came. Only in retrospect do I see that the arrival of our children made sense. At the time of my Advent waiting, I could only poke the mist of the future and hope. I don't think I had the assurance of things not seen. And, I was prepared to give it all up. Just forget about it and trust that our lives would find other blessings if we didn't have children. That was a hard one. Give it up and move on. I stopped taking the medicine made with nun's urine derivitatives (do not tease me about this!) and forced myself to turn away from what I wanted.
The poignancy of Advent's balance between promise and fulfillment touched me back in those years and touches me now. The Lord is coming, but He is not here yet....