Monday, November 28, 2011

The Stories We Tell

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving. The first Monday of the Advent season. I am sneaking a peek at the end of the Advent Readings that our church gave us yesterday. We won't start the advent calendar here until Thursday, but I like seeing where this road will lead.

And I don't know why it never crossed my mind, but their choice for December 24th makes my heart swell.

Next to the scripture to read, it says this, "Jesus makes all things new."

If that isn't the point of Advent, I'm not sure what is. Once upon a time, a child was born and everything changed. Now all of this waiting and hoping, praying and believing in Grace is because one day this story will all make sense. Everything is being made and will be made right. 

Yesterday we sat in a circle and lazily soaked up the last Sunday of the season that allows for picnics and grass picking. I feel like I spend more time listening and thinking these days, more than telling and acting. It's better to sit back and let some things be, let stories come as our elbows get damp and sink slightly into the earth.

He and I wandered with my little M over to the cemetery after the picnic. Some say it's the Irish in me, others say I'm just prone to morbidity, but this cemetery was one of the most beautiful cradles of death I've ever seen. I can't really put into words what it feels like to see name after name, date after date etched in stone. So final. So finished. And yet the trees grow tall, branches dipping low and back to the sky, their life not suffering for all this fertile earth.

There is one family lot where we stop. Four headstones of children gone under the age of 5. All within 5 years of each other. Brothers and sisters, children of Hannah and Alexander, sent to the earth too soon some would say. Nearby their parents lay, some 150+ years ago. These are old stories but something in me rubs raw. I wonder how long Hannah lingered here at their gravesides, how frequently tears fell on these stones.

And I tell him, "These generations, all the ones who have gone on before us, they went through so much more than we'll ever have opportunity for."

The sacrifice. The loss.
The struggle for a better life.
Hard work and dreams for not just themselves, but for generations to come.

Now we reserve the hard work and sacrifice for the nameless or the great. Not that many generations back, I can point to my great grandparents who left Ireland and Poland and settled here. We are children of people who sacrificed for something greater. For a better life for their children, for me, and ultimately, for this little curly-haired girl. 

I don't know that I'll ever fully grasp the weight of those who traveled by sea with dreams. Those with adventurous spirits who claimed land, who started over again with no roots, those who wept at gravesides and worked hard until the end of their days.

Life is short, and even in death, beautiful. Madeleine asks where all the people are and he tries to tell her, "They're buried, in the ground."

"I won't get to meet them?!" she sighs with exasperation. No, love, you won't. But we continue the story they started. Adventuring. Dreaming. Believing for better. Holding out hope.

With the onset of Advent, I want to remember the stories. All of them. The hope that this world is not our home. That a young mother once cradled a baby in her arms, believing against common opinion, believing after hundreds of years, that the story was just beginning.

And it was.


  1. this might just be my favorite blog that you have ever written:)

    i love every word, every thought, every ponder.

    and most of all: i love you!

  2. @katy - thanks friend. thanks so much for this little note. and i love you too!

  3. This is SO beautiful...
    I love cemeteries too, and the mute stories of people who loved and lost, dreamed and worked, never quit.
    (Visiting from SDG)

  4. @janice - thanks so much for stopping by! i love the way you put that - the mute stories. so well said.