The gift that shows up in the midst of our December weariness
A Reflection for the Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Find today’s reading here.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low … (Is 40:3-4)
It happens each December without fail, though we may be failing. In the bleakest midwinters, when the sun-lit moments are shortest, when the cold is creeping through every crack, pressing against every door, when the season’s darkness threatens to engulf us, pervading every moment, degrading every emotion. It is that voice crying in the wilderness, don’t be afraid, make ready, throw open the door. Deliverance is coming; he is coming.
How often are we nearing the end? Pushing against our limits. Bereft of love and patience, breathless, furious. How close are we to giving up altogether? No longer running from our demons, but falling in step with them, spooning with misery, indulging in suffering.
How close to the edges of sorrow when each December comes around again, offering this ineffable gift, this new beginning, hope to the hopeless, friend to the friendless, blessed prince of peace and mercy. How we need you so. We would never cease sobbing, crying out in gratitude, if we truly understood it. Incarnation in the midst of all this squalor and waste. What did we do to deserve such? Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Pull it close. Hold on with all your might. You cannot be too greedy. It is all good, all wondrous, all bountiful, all for you.
Get to know Kevin Clarke, senior editor/chief correspondent
Favorite Advent or Christmas themed art?
A Christmas album that goes into heavy rotation this time of year in my family is “The Bells of Dublin” from the Chieftains, collaborating this time with a sometimes unlikely (Marianne Faithful?) collection of wonderful singers, including the late Nanci Griffith who offers a lovely rendering of “The Wexford Carol.” The album serves up lively Christmas traditionals that have not been bogged down by decades of music industry smarm and overproduction and includes some clever originals like Elvis Costello’s “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” and “The Rebel Jesus” from Jackson Browne.
Favorite Christmas tradition?
The suffering and kvetching of surly teens tasked with decorating a Christmas tree and wrapping the yard in twinkly lights!
What project are you most proud to have worked on this year at America?
Dispatches, of course! Please drop by and take a look at our reporting from around the United States and around the world:
But among reports and analysis of my own:
An important story: Mississippi’s water crisis is part of a larger story: systemic racism and government neglect
An underreported story: The hidden crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic: 7.5 million orphaned children
A skeptic’s story: What if doubt is actually good for your faith?
Favorite Christmas recipe?
I guess my Christmas memories regarding food circle the astounding holiday meals my grandmother used to put together in a tiny kitchen in the Bronx. I don’t think there were any special recipes involved with the turkey, roast beef and ham she always served up to my parents, aunts and uncles, and assorted cousins crowded into the apartment she shared with my grandfather. One “ingredient” I am still trying to figure out is how she managed to serve everything to so many people while keeping everything hot. It’s a feat I have never been able to replicate.
Favorite Christmas photo?
It’s just like in the movies, magical …