This is not the Advent I planned. Not that I'd planned an elaborate one, mind you, but I did expect to begin the season with evening mass (it's just so lovely during Advent to leave mass in the dark) and then each night, hang one ornament on our Jesse tree, light the candle on the Advent wreath, and pray the accompanying prayers and scriptures.
The season began Sunday, in Urgent Care, with a two-hour wait. The day before Thanksgiving, my youngest daughter and I went to Urgent Care, where we were diagnosed with sinus infections. We were both put on a round of Amoxicillin. She gradually got better. But I really didn't recover. The sinus pressure, headaches, and post-nasal drip continued. Last week, I started running fever and getting chills. Then came the cough, which although it never reminded me for the fifth time to take out the trash or put my shoes away, still qualified as being of the nagging variety. So, I did what I was supposed to do and made a follow-up visit Friday to a most efficient ENT doc. In and out in three minutes and he didn't even need to listen to my lungs to just prescribe a stronger antibiotic and send me on my way!
Saturday was my oldest daughter's 9th birthday. She chose to invite a special friend out for a painting session at a local ceramics shop and lunch. They had a great time and other than a sinus headache, I managed fine, although I was wiped out that evening. My friend, Amber, came into town for the weekend and she helped me; she even made soup for us.
Sunday morning, I sat in a chair outside and made a Christmas wreath--of sorts--for Amber. We decided to go get Sonic drinks (my sincerest sadness for anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with this fast-food treat) and on the drive home, something spilled from a long-forgotten cup. It was one of those spills that required immediate action, so as soon as we pulled into the driveway, I set about vacuuming, spraying, and scrubbing. Sweat was pouring down and I was really weak when my cleaning frenzy ceased. Then, the cough returned, but deeper, with no satisfaction, and I started wheezing while having trouble catching my breath. I didn't want to get caught having to visit the ER at midnight,so I headed to Urgent Care. As much as I loved my rural childhood, I never want to live far from quality 24/7 medical care. I am so thankful we even have multiple choices in our twin cities.
So to Urgent Care where a wonderful nurse and doctor listened to my whole story--and my lungs--before ordering a chest x-ray. A little more waiting. The technician had to turn the system on and off twice before it would properly load. A short wait for results from Radiology to confirm a diagnosis of pneumonia. It wasn't a short enough wait for the doctor, I guess. I heard her on the phone asking for the results NOW. I really do love her. I also overheard a nurse telling her a doctor wouldn't come in on a case. The doctor said, "Why not. He gets paid for his time, same as I do.". Then she proceeded to get on the phone and explain things in the same way to that doctor! Yeah, I love her.
So, now it's two days later and I'm waiting for the medicines to work. I'm still weak, coughing, and wheezing, but I'm more alert than yesterday. Like, alert enough to sit up in bed, typing this post. And it turns out I'm probably having a more fruitful Advent than anything I could have planned. In this season of waiting, I'm waiting. I'm waiting on my sweet three-year-old son to pop into my room and give me another kiss on the forehead. I'm waiting to see my daughters who won't be home until late this evening because my husband will leave work early to pick them up for me and then take them back the school where he works while he finishes his day's work. I'm waiting on meals from dear friends who asked to help. I'm accepting the offer after initial hesitation, because I had to face it that I needed help, if only for the rest of the family who need a recovered mama. I'm not consumed with December business because I just can't.
Advent isn't about mere waiting, though. It' about expectant waiting; it's about anticipation. Even as I sit, pausing to cough with what is sometimes the effort of my whole frame, with laundry needing attention in my line of vision, and the worrying silences from the other parts of the house where my son necessarily occupies himself, the air around me is pregnant with hope. I have been tired and ill--off-and on--with migraines and ulcerative colitis flares for a year now. With this pneumonia, I have been forced to rest. I just admitted that I couldn't host the book club Christmas party and accepted a friend's offer to do so. There was a time when I came frightfully close to living for things like that. I'm no longer that person who would have risked a relapse to decorate for and host a Christmas party. I once pushed myself for a party days before I was admitted to hospital for emergency back surgery.
I admitted that I need help. Hope isn't just about the future. It's also about recognizing, in today, the changes God has wrought in our lives by how far we've progressed. That recognition reassures us that further progress is possible. My Advent holds all that the accessories of the season represent to us. The circle of God, like the circular wreath of evergreen. The circle of His ever-watchful arms around us and the love He shows that knows no end. The dim, but ever-brightening, light of grace, gradually shedding light on the truths of His faithful precence in our lives. And the whole story of the past--of God's kept-promise throughout salvation history--large-scale on our Jesse Trees and played out small-scale as we reflect on our own journeys of faith.
Oh, Radiant Dawn, come to me. For now, for this rare moment, I am truly waiting.