Patiently awaiting an unspeakable joy

This blog post first appeared over at Gather Women - a wonderful gathering of Canadian women, elevating one another and the stories they share. It's such an honour to have a small part building this wonderful origination. Sharing the wonder of Advent, my favourite time of year, was such a gift.


Advent Two: Patiently awaiting an unspeakable joy

When I was young, Christmas was by far my favourite time of year. My blonde curls and eyes of wonder would wake before dawn to behold the perfectly trimmed tree with presents under its branches.

The magic of Christmas was a mix of sweet baby Jesus in a manger and a list of gifts I had scribbled down with my Crayola markers. I was expectant alright, but perhaps not for the right kind of things.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for a first century Jew, patiently waiting for their Messiah. Living under the heavy hand of Roman occupation, knowing unspeakable and gratuitous violence and fear. Feeling the burden of poverty and economic oppression. With every breath slowly drawn in, wondering, could this be the day? The day of liberation?

Yet, in the corner of Caesar's empire, among an oppressed ethnic minority, a baby was born.

A king. Without crown or country. A king who would one day carry the cross and the sin of the world.

Joy unspeakable!

But in the waiting? In the expecting? In the silence of the unknown? In the soul-wrenching, back-breaking, heart-heavy moments before?

Joy intangible.

Amongst our carefully decorated trees, in the hustle and bustle of this season, there is still an expectancy that resides. A groan deep inside, that reaches through the ages and links arms with our first century brothers and sisters.

We now own their longing.
We are now the people of the waiting.
We are now the people who are expecting.

With baited breath, we now sit in the waiting space for the return of our King.

God our Father, cause us to be a people who wait well.
Give us eyes to see, as we stand on tiptoes, peering ahead in anticipation of the coming King.
Open our ears to hear the cry of the babe born in Bethlehem.
And to hear the Spirit whisper “the not yet is worth the wait”
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel.

 

— Amen.

_________________

Elle Pyke is a founding member and Prayer Lead for Gather Women.

the path of the writer


i use to be a writer.

at least i think i use to be a writer.

i use to write.

so in some strange universe, i suppose that works.

i got really tired of everything i was seeing. everything i was reading. and worse everything i was writing.

it all looked the same. sounded the same. and i found myself murmuring like a grumpy bear with a bone tiredness that only hibernation could cure.

every time i wrote and every time i read, the murmuring increased.

so i hibernated. or evacuated. or whatever you'd like to call it. i disappeared from my small writing nook and went silent.

my little writing nook back then was a blog. i had a lovely blog.  oh didn't we all.

and at the time, that blog was getting noticed. in the middle all my frustration and seemingly stumbling footsteps, people i deeply admired seemed to be noticing all that i was mumbling about. around the time i began to foresee my departure, i received an e mail from a prominent christian writer. he said he had been reading the musings from my little writing nook.

when i read his words, i almost fell off my chair.                                                                               

i was awe struck that anyone of substance would listen to my incessant ramblings. he told me he thought i could really be something if i continued to contribute to the "movement", as he had named it. the whole "Jesus was a feminist" conversation

i was speechless.                                                                                                                            

and then i became wordless.

i turned his words over and over again in my mind and i pondered what it all could mean. and with one swift swipe of my mouse, i promptly hung up my "online pen" and went silent. i muttered to myself that i was crazy, and yet my soul felt assured that i was doing the right thing. his words were meant for encouragement, and encourage me they did.

i knew in an instant that i was not ready to have such a podium. i knew there was no delete button in cyberspace. no error that couldn't be traced. no theological license that would forgive me a thousand heresies. (of which i know have many) my heart was not ready to be eaten alive by the online vultures.

some bruises break the skin, but others break the heart.

i was not strong enough to be disliked. my heart was faint and for the taking, and i knew one bad review could leave me in crumbles.

please don't hear what i am not saying. i am no martyr for the cause.

the affirmation i received was just that.

affirmation.

my success (should that have occurred) would have been predicated on hard work, creative writing and a dose of good luck. who knows what would have happened.

nothing.
something
anything.

who knows. but what i did know was, i needed to walk away. and so i did. offline life was there for the taking, and i took in every sweet part.

i spent seasons of silence, learning from those whose wisdom i can only hope to one day attain.

i studied, and not just from theological text books.

i traveled, clocking miles and memories along the way.

i learned what sweat equity really means. i learned to build a real business. a business where others are dependent on you, a business with budget and board rooms.

i cultivated rich and deep roots as part of the teaching team at the church i attend. what an honor to serve with people who are discerning how missional theology shapes the practice of communities, compassion and creativity.

i spoke at conferences and churches and facilitated meetings with leaders whom i admire. nothing is more humbling than to teach those who once taught you.

but most most importantly, i prioritized relationships in my life. our days never fail to betray our priorities. a freeing love, that let them be all God created them to be. a love that appreciated every individual intricacy and nuance. a love that was surrounded in joy and laughter. to my astonishment, these relationships reciprocated in ways i could have never imagined. broken places in my heart were healed smooth again with the faith and faithfulness of those i hold dear.

life is wonderfully messy. and thankfully grace is always astounding. no one is ever really prepared for the journey ahead.

but as prepared as one can be, i believe i am. ready to write again. ready to try again at whatever this was. and whatever sacred i can find in this chaos, i would like to share with you.

whoever you are.

there is room for you here.