It's always fascinated me that some clothes are sold "distressed," with holes ripped, collars and hems frayed, bleached-out spots, etc.--as if we were sitting around and wondering when we'd have time to make our clothes look worn.
That doesn't seem to be a worry for me. The fraying and spotting just, well, happen when I'm not looking...no extra effort required. It seems to me that my clothes actually conspire to look "lived in."
And so it goes with the dailiness of my life. A number of its finer points seem to dull in late November and December; e-mails go unanswered, clutter heaps in the kitchen, and by the time I get home in the evening, I'm too used up to do much about it. Cumulatively, I don't feel like I'm at the top of my game, but rather in a "put your head down and muscle through it" kind of period.
It leaves me feeling frayed at the edges of my self. The things that quiet me and mend me seem to be the only "optional" items on my agenda...reading, writing, family time, time to just be. (Hmmm...maybe I need to stop regarding them as "optional," no?) Music, which normally feeds me, is a substantial cause of the drain in this season--there's just so MUCH of it! Everything just ramps up, this time of year, for musicians and church geeks like me.
Add to it our context right now--the part of the lectionary cycle which depicts so clearly the darkness and the light of the world. Lamps go out and talents lie buried; God keeps promises, saves us from outer darkness and invites us again into relationship. Likewise, the news cycles of recent weeks tell of disasters all over the world...war and financial peril, blood and hunger and pain, set against a hopeful new chapter in American political leadership, arriving even as we're on the brink of our several potential disasters.
Pain and hope, death and renewal, darkness and light.
We're coming into Advent, my favorite liturgical season. Because it's a time (if we dare to keep it) in which we can acknowledge that, as temporal beings we're sometimes weary and lost...that we're frayed and even a-frayed. And that this is not The Final Answer. That kairos shines behind our smoky, cluttered chronos. That, even as we're the people who walk in darkness, we also live in the promise that we'll see a great Light. That, on hearing that promise repeated, we remember that we have seen it: a rip in the fabric of the chronos, through which Light pours, throwing everything into sharp relief, making sense of the layers of chaos around us and dispelling the cold dark.
As Tony Campolo often trumpets, "It's Friday...but Sunday's comin'!"
Be not afrayed, friends.