Today I googled pictures of Hygge. Never one to be on time for a trend, this Christmas I deemed our house hygge central, with candles and blankets and herbal teas and wooly socks everywhere. It could also be called The Sick House, for our home has been that, too. But hygge sounds so much better. Unpronounceable, but better.
(Does she only write when she's sick, you might ask? I feel you.)
Advent rarely turns out the way I think it will. I imagine cozy nights and cuddles, quiet dinners and simple gift shopping. I think we'll have all this time—to rest, to read, to wait with expectation. And sure, there has been loads of resting. There have been days I haven't gotten out of bed, when I've let the kids sleep till 10am missing the morning roll call at school. We've cancelled plans, but we've also eaten lots of soup and I introduced Ella to While You Were Sleeping, so I guess it's not all bad. But still, it's never what I picture; never what I hope for. I'm looking for peace and for intention, for a spirit of quiet joy. Instead I find sleepless nights, coughing fits, and temper tantrums in public (mostly, from me); three pages of prescriptions and a referral for a chest x-ray.
Hygge hasn't quite lived up to the hype.
A few years ago I read an article about the slow and inefficient work of God. That phrase stuck to me like a shirt I'd try to shrug myself out of when it was just starting to fit. We were in the US, working hard to return to Ireland, and those days never quite turned out the way I thought they would, either. Or maybe I knew it would hard; long and slow, insecure and unsteady. But I suppose I hoped for a surprise, for help to come from the mountains at the drop of a tweed flat cap. It didn't, at least not when I wanted it to. Instead, we rode the rhythm of time, of seasons, and as advent came to a close, on the day after epiphany, we hopped on a plane to start the new year - and a new life - back on Irish shores.
So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that advent itself is like that: slow and inefficient.
Anna and Simeon were experts in this inefficiency, while an otherworldly actor played his part behind the scenes. They showed up day after day, lines ready, movements blocked. Still, God waited. He had a script held close to his chest. Notes scribbled in the margins, rearranging stage directions and tweaking the cast. No one would be an extra in his story, no plot-line left with unmanageable holes. And though time stood still and 400 years of silence passed, the most inefficient work of all would also be the most miraculous, the most holy, the best surprise in a quiet, lonely moment.
I, too, wait in a quiet, lonely moment. Hushed coughs and tired feet fill the space above me. We are slow. We are inefficient. We're pretty annoyed at being so darn sick, again, year after year. And I feel like an extra today, a small bit part in a story I keep waiting to tell.
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
That, alone, is more than I can hope for.
A prisoner of hope, fit for restoration.
Under any ordinary circumstance, the last month should've been pretty fantastic. While sick, we met the President of Ireland, saw a Glen Hansard gig (pictured above at St Patrick's Cathedral), and became citizens. Not too shabby.