Empty and Full

This is the magic. This is the real magic. God has acted. God has intervened. God is the one who rules over the everlasting kingdom that he delivers to his Son… Only God is able to give true and lasting peace. Only God can create a new kingdom where no evil and no disappointment can ever enter. The news from Saint Luke is that God himself has entered this world. His own blood will be shed in order to guarantee that the fountains of blood will one day come to an end forever. Jesus Christ, the Lord, is our hope. Jesus Christ is our future. Jesus, our Savior, and our God. The little strings of lights in the dark places remain lit, by his grace, in the dark places until he comes again.
— Fleming Rutledge, Advent
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We agreed. Saturday would be when we took all the Christmas decor down, bringing our apartment back to normal until we leave this beautiful space in three short months for a new home. The in-between cozies up to us as the apartment has always been our haven for about the entirety of our marriage and we await entering in to something new, exciting, and still yet unknown. The feeling of unsettled has me craving the sweet and sentimental moments of place. We’re bringing the Christmas decor with us, of course, but our last Christmas here has me lingering in these particulars; admiring the way the sage green paint that I didn’t choose or ever want glimmers with the lime and maroon bulbs on the tree, the way we’ve set up “shop” a happy familiarity and comfort at the end of a long day.

The weekend was extended and long, and we enjoyed just about every minute of our time in other rooms we used to call ours while old parts of us still remain there. The day after the travel and events, Boxing Day, we woke up unready to move into the routine. Not a whole lot found itself done, gifts strewn about on the kitchen island a mark and testament to our boldly lazy status. Groceries were here, but we still ordered pizza.

My affectionate name for the days following the holiday is a hangover day, the remnants of the yesterday clinging to your body like something you just can’t shake. The liturgical calendar just had us in the season of Advent, Christmas day being the marker of the switch from fasting to feasting, and Christmas season extending itself for two full weeks. It’s not a hangover we should feel, but a fountain of joy: after our long season of lament and waiting, the answer has come to us in person of Jesus. We’ve been the ones to exhaust ourselves, a pattern we’ve decided to inhabit as we worship the culture around us. A different sort of embodiment is called for, and it is one we are too preoccupied to put on, our intoxication with comfort and material long overdone to be simply good things.

As my feet hit the ground, maybe not running, but dragging, I thanked God for feeling both empty and full. The emptiness pushes the need for His daily bread, that in the spaces that seem hard to wade in to, the fear and darkness that seems too much to bear, the empty was answered at long last through the birth of the Savior as we celebrate—He enables us to celebrate. The full, maybe bloating, leaves me thankful, provision from His hand supplied as we get to enjoy what not only those around us have given, but He has given freely. We frost cookies just to eat them right there, as we quietly enjoy one another’s presence and dote over all we do not deserve. It all points back to Him.

We’re exhausted, and honestly, I don’t know of many who aren’t, but the God-who-put-on-flesh and came to a specific, particular place has come and is coming again to rescue every place and thing that is so broken. I want to go back to this reverence of Christmas, the dates on the calendar drawn out so that we might remember to continue to dance. The lights are still on.