It’s the photo of my three year old nephew, who barely escaped death as a newborn, wearing the light blue flannel of my departed brother’s childhood.
It’s another young and innocent nephew talking to his parents about his Papa Charles in heaven and asking, “but did he drive dere?”
It’s the bright yellow of the leaves lining the brick road of an old Southern downtown.
It’s the Ukrainian family who hugs me and places a handmade necklace around my neck out of gratitude for the love and kindness we, my family, have shown them.
It’s the 12-year-old who suffers from anxiety that lights up when I give him worry stones.
It’s the beauty of family even if it looks like a husband, a wife, a pet, and no kids – not because kids aren’t loved or wanted but because maybe they aren’t possible or maybe they just aren’t part of the love story.
It’s waking up next to your best friend and soulmate every day even if their breath smells of yesterday.
It’s the fruit of hard labor after failing time and time again.
It’s the courage to recognize when something joyous becomes suffering and you choose to chase joy again.
It’s the cardinal that sits on the windowsill or the rainbow that fills the sky when you are missing lost loved ones.
The “most profound, tenderest things in the world,” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) are all of these things and more.
It’s day one of advent. My devotion for today quotes theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer several times. A man who was imprisoned for his resistance efforts against Hitler’s regime and eventually died in a concentration camp just weeks before the end of the second World War.
In a letter (from his prison cell) he wrote to his parents:
“Celebrating advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot…For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer
At the height of Hitler’s regime, Bonhoeffer had the courage to wait…to hope for the greatest, most profound, tenderest thing in the world. He held faith close hoping and waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). In the end, I’m not sure his waiting for the home of righteousness was all about the end of Hitler’s Germany. Of course, I feel confident he was waiting for freedom and peace, not only for himself, but for all. I feel he was waiting for humanity to serve Godly love and ardent hope.
In a world imprisoned by anger, hate, divisiveness, impatience, I choose to recognize the dark but embrace the light. I choose to hope and wait. It’s in the stillness of waiting that I not only notice the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, I feel them too. I choose to make the very act of waiting holy (Kate Bowler).
This holiday season I challenge you (and myself) to embrace making waiting holy. If you are waiting in the long grocery line or in holiday traffic, just wait. Choose to look for the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world in that moment of holy waiting.