Advent is not simply a story we tell, not a one-and-done arrival of good news. It is a season of remembering that the good news is still emerging and evolving, that it needs to be proclaimed again and again as it seeps into both broad cultural dynamics and the small moments of our daily lives. Here, Danielle Castillejo, a second-year MA in Counseling Psychology student, writes about those everyday moments when conflict and stress loom close in the dark—and about the ongoing proclamation of Good News that still carries the light. This post originally appeared on Red Tent Living.
The angels broke into the atmosphere, announcing good news that seemed too late. But, they broke in anyway:
Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.
I woke up again last night to his rough inhales—he struggled to catch his rhythm, and then exhaled more quickly. I found myself lying still, listening to his changing rhythms at 3:00am, pondering how to talk to the kids about my work schedule over Christmas. It isn’t my biggest worry, but I feel I can conquer it more adeptly than the other concerns that loom in the middle of the night.
Hope had stirred. Our finances have been good for more moments than bad this year, and yet, Christmas has arrived and we feel the voids of community and connection. It wears on our relationship, thinning the fabric stretched between our lives more than we want to admit. I look into the blackness, undaunted. I am here. He is here. Hope doesn’t abandon faithful and loved.
Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.
Hours earlier, we both woke to the droning television voices narrating news from the day. We had been arguing before bed again—kids, finances—until salted water finally leaked from both our eyes. Our argument had ended in zoning out in front of the TV; a truce of weariness, not of agreement. Both of us sat on different couches, stretched out, close to one another, but too far to touch. He didn’t know I needed his touch in the heat of the battle. I wanted to rest my hand on his chest, even as he poured frustrations into the space between us.
His eyebrows had squished toward each other. His mouth open, his voice moved slow and low. He was telling me we needed to keep our cool, our heads, our awareness. The problems at his work were different players, same situation. Honestly, I didn’t want to listen. I was tired. Tired of the same old story. It’s a story where he battles weariness in workspaces that tell him his accent trumps work ethic, efficiency, and integrity.
I used to strategize with him and thought better of the attempt. I saw the conflict. We weren’t really angry with one another. It’s the weariness of a daily grind that burns holes in our patience at home, and our ability to teach the kids grace. A faceless reality, shrouded in anger, hurt, and despair doesn’t offer either of us breathing room. Will we ever catch up on our bills? Will the kids feel loved with the Christmas gifts we can afford? Will our love survive the night? Our enemies are sitting right in front of us, but the enemy hasn’t won.
“Our enemies are sitting right in front of us, but the enemy hasn’t won.”
“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us…
My phone blinks, notifications flash: emails, texts, Facebook. I flip my phone face down. I don’t want to know what others want. The advertisements don’t tempt me. I’m tempted to skip the lights, tree, and stockings—but it’s not just about 40-year-old adult me. And I haven’t cashed in hope for barrenness. Not yet. I turn on my side, facing his back, certain I feel extravagance in the after-fight; a calm that he didn’t run—a peace that I didn’t leave.
We are a family and I want it that way. The beats inside quicken, I feel certain I will wake up, not less weary, but with the rush that comes from love. It is thrilling. Blackness still engulfs us, and his sporadic inhales and exhales are ordinary. This is the kind of ordinary that gives me hope, inspires me to work hard, an uncanny peace. God’s tender mercies.
After all, what gives light? It comes as we wait together in the darkness, inviting the light to fan the flame of hope in both of us.
So, I rejoice in the ordinary, and I join my husband in the hard, yet thrilling work of loving well. “It’s not too late,” I whisper to the angels. “Don’t ever stop announcing.”
…to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.