“Why is there so much Lent in Advent? In this season of joy, why do I bump up against my wounds? The wise ones who journey with me remind me that there are cycles of shedding before there is conception, that birthing is painful and messy and loud, and that we find it so hard to let go, to open so that new life can emerge.” Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions
Preparing a space. Letting go. Shedding. Before me lies a table full of photos of a young girl. Me. I see my 2nd birthday; my fifth; another one or two. I think I look dorky. Sullen. Goofy. I think I look brilliant. Wise and beautiful. God’s perfect creation. One in need of constant shedding and letting go.
It is time to start letting go of resentments toward the imperfections of my childhood. I know that I was cared for although not always well. My parents were, after all, human—just like me. I was clothed in handmade creations. Were they made out of love or necessity or possibly both? At age eight, I fell off my bicycle and broke my front teeth and split my lip so badly that it would droop for several years until my mother took me for plastic surgery. Ironically, I appear to be most proud of my school picture taken after my teeth were broken for it is the only picture that bears my signature. The pictures are tiny and could easily have been lost over the years. I am grateful to see my young handwriting testifying to the spunk I had even in my brokenness.
I am grateful for the table full of pictures that I did not think existed. They show me that someone saw to it that my life was documented—perfectly & imprecisely. The school photos. A few snapshots. The glamour girl with my sixties “fall” (i.e. fake hair). A new bike at Christmas. The dangerous sled ride being pulled behind a mini-bike by my father. The trip to Niagara Falls that I wasn’t quite sure we had taken. My dad’s semi-truck. Skipper the dog. My cousin, Vicki who snuck olives from the table with me. My sophisticated sister and my skinny brother before he grew into his ears ☺. Mother holding me on the day I was born.
These photos are helping me shed that which I no longer need. They are marking the time to let love back in. My mother was a woman filled with imperfection. My father was often absent for long periods of time. Together, however, they raised three amazing children. “Good genes,” we’ve always said. “Good hearts” is probably more like it. This, of course, makes me think of my own children. May they grow up well in spite of me AND because of me. I love them the best I can…just as my parents loved me. Yes, it is a time of preparing space. Letting Go. Shedding. It is the time of Advent.
photo: Mom & Me