When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and
when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us
remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to
pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make
a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright
tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it
bends toward justice. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in
it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before
all the nations. ~ Isaiah 61:11
It's been a dreary day, gray and rainy and unseasonably warm, melting yesterday's snow. Snow makes me cheerful, feels like Christmas, creates an air of festivity that leaps past Advent altogether.
Today, Advent returned.
This world, this world, full of schemers and cheaters, does it really bend toward justice?
Well, yes, I think it does, but the movement is sometimes so slow it is nearly imperceptible.
I played phone tag today with a woman with an ever-changing story of woe and poverty; I wonder if I will ever have a Christmas in ministry that does not feature a mother with a baby or a pregnant woman? She called the church, she called my house, she left one number and then she left another number and finally I got a voice mailbox, someone else's, and left her a message. How is she managing without a phone?
How is anyone managing?
I have the concerns of an educated, privileged person: will my son get into the school he wants, and will we figure out a way to pay for it? I'd forgotten how much anxiety this process brings, deciding where to apply, and getting the paperwork together, and Lord! the cost of the applications, which has gone up, and for this child it doesn't end there, he must fly all over the country and play his clarinet for strangers.
Like many children of the upper middle class, I find I am downwardly mobile, that the world is downwardly mobile; we all wonder the same things, or most of us do.
Will there be enough to go around?
Every year, I remember what it was like to be miserable at Christmas, the three or four worst Decembers of my life. The shortages then were security, love, kindness, affection. I worked and planned to make it Christmas for my children, and I hope their memories do not reflect how I felt on some of those Christmas mornings.
I'd like to think that people who love deserve love, and will get it, but I know it doesn't always work out that way, and I cannot explain why it works for some people and not for others. I only know I don't like it. At our house, we have no shortage now of the things that matter most, and maybe that's my story of hope for the universe, my own little entry in the greater story of the bend toward justice and the springing up of righteousness.
But it's cold comfort when you don't have it yourself. And when I have to say "no" to a mother, even when I have questions about the story she tells me, it's cold comfort for me, too.