Saturday, December 14, 2013

Elizabeth and Advent

This afternoon I was waiting on a friend in Old Salem.  We were *finally* going to attend the Candle Tea together.  While I'm ashamed that it's taken me 11 years of living in Winston to go, I won't throw her under the bus and point out that this was her first time in 19 years.  (See what I just did there?)

As I was waiting, the line behind me grew and an older woman kept saying "Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!"  She was calling to her daughter who had let her out of the car and gone to park.  Later, her Elizabeth went off to the bakery in search of Sugar Cake, and her mom again called out to her "Elizabeth!  Elizabeth!" We shared a moment- as strangers tend to do with people named Waldrup- and began to talk about names.

My sweet Elizabeth's name was on the forefront of my mind as our time came for the Tea and we were admitted to the Single Brother's house.  Much to my surprise, I came face to face with one of the best parts of my 2013- a friend that I gained through my grief group this summer.  She was playing the part of hostess today, so we grabbed only a quick moment to speak, but the hug from my soul sister on this journey was both sacred and life-giving.

It wasn't until we were downstairs that my mind wandered back to my friend... and I spent time thinking of her sweet daughter who I never had the joy to meet.  Her precious girl- Elizabeth- was taken from this world as a teenager.  Seeing my friend living out loud years past her daughter's death is awe-inspiring and hope-producing.  Seeing someone who keeps her daughter's life alive to those she meets as well as who is honest with the pain and the grief... that... that is real.

We eventually entered a room in which the Nativity was laid before us- both in word and in sight.  I have shared with those close to me this year (and now I share with all of you) that 2013 has been a tough year for me spiritually.  I have sought wise counsel, given myself grace, and am daily working through my confusion and frustration with a God who is Big Enough to handle all of that.  I have worked through my anger with how His People care for one another- and some of the hurtful things that we say all while using His Name as power.

Yet as I found myself in front of the Nativity, I was again drawn to Elizabeth.

We chose to name our daughter Elizabeth because of the connection we felt to Biblical women who struggled with fertility.  Elizabeth in the New Testament- cousin of Mary (mother of Jesus)- shows up and we are told her story.  And a lot of her story is told in relation to the story of Jesus.  When Mary came to tell Elizabeth that she was pregnant, this is the account according to Luke:

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

As Elizabeth is pregnant with her own child, that has nothing to do with her response to Mary.  Unlike so many women (present company included) I know, her response was not "YAY!  We can have babies together!!"  Her response was genuine joy for her cousin, reverence for being the presence of God, and admiration of Mary for her faith.

And in the midst of trials of faith and dark nights of the soul- that is what a I long for.  I long for someone to look at my life and say the words "You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said."  While I am not there in this moment, I look to Elizabeth for encouragement.  She was a woman who knew her God, and a woman who loved her family well because of it.

In these last few days in which we celebrate the Advent- the coming of Christ- I wish for us all to have a true encounter with Jesus.  While I don't know lots about how God works- I know that His son is good and kind and generous to those He loves.

And lucky for us all- we are those that He loves.

Oh come, let us adore Him.

1 comment:

Kay Windsor said...

What a gift in this month of December to see you among those attending the Candle Tea. And your kind and grace-filled words about your Elizabeth and mine and other Elizabeth connections mean even more: December is the month of our Elizabeth's birth. And even if I did not think of her already each day, in December those thoughts can be heavier. Thank you for the gift of your words, and thank you for that chance presence yesterday.