I haven't written anything at all about Advent this year.
I don't know whether I will or not.
For three years, I keep a bog entitled Praying Advent Through Darkness. This year, I find that I feel more neutral, and more capable of self-restraint. A few nights ago Musical Friend and I went to a Taize service, and then we spent an hour sitting in the car discussing our experiences of loss, of her husband and my son. At this point, three and one-half years having passed, we see that few other people are interested in hearing about the deepest realities of our lives.
I do notice that, among my blogging friends, some of the bereaved moms are letting some of the sadness seep out. And for one, a new loss in her closest circle of friends has rocked her world, while another marks the second anniversary of her beautiful daughter's death in a few days.
Maybe I'll have more to say; maybe not. In the meantime, what follows is something that I wrote three years ago, three months after Josh died. It still applies.
I have, as a consequence of my son's death, received what I think must be some of the most extraordinary missives ever written. Emails, cards, letters -- the form of transmission doesn't matter. The words do. Some are about my son, some about those of us left behind, some about God. There is apparently something about magnitude of loss that drives ordinary people to eloquence.
I literally carry some of this writing around with me. There are moments, many of them, when I think that I will not make it to the next one, and then I read what people have sent me. I read them as prayers, regardless of how they were intended. I look for what God might be saying, in a phrase or a paragraph, and sometimes I see them, small clues to the mystery that binds us together, whether the people who articulated them knew what they were doing or not.
If you have a friend who is longing for someone else this Advent, especially someone who died in the last year or two, sit down this week-end and write a note, or send an email. It might be the most important thing you do this month.