Christmas tree with Moravian star at top

We have entered the time of night where the expectant morning is near but not yet. I realized earlier today that I have not written on this site (or really managed it much at all) since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Much has occurred since then. My father died Christmas morning 2020. We have launched our oldest into the world (a college graduation during the pandemic), our middle child now only one semester from graduating from college himself, and our youngest almost halfway through college. I have had many successes at Mercer, particularly through programs in the King Center for Southern Studies.

But I have spent part of the day thinking about how much grief we have suffered over the past three years. Time altered us in ways we may never account for. When my mom died almost eighteen years ago, we talked about how we moved differently after her death. I am fully aware that I move much more differently after dad’s death. While I am not alone in the world, some of the tethers have been broken, so I wander sometimes in the light of my parents’ shadows. I am sustained by Kerri and our children.

I have often wished that I could write about current events in ways that colleagues like Heather Cox Richardson or Kevin Kruse do on almost a daily basis. But I have noticed my strengths lie in different spaces. While I am much troubled by the darkness of the world, and those who know me know I am comfortable with darkness, I am reminded this night that light isn’t about overcoming the darkness but shining in spite of it. The birth of a child, any child really, is a reminder that the divine has not given up yet, even when we may have. And the child celebrated this night did not overcome the darkness that surrounded his life. The hope, however, is not that we get to avoid suffering but that suffering and pain does not have the final word about creation. Tonight we bend into that expectant moment with hope that God is not yet done with creation, the way a young mother, burdened, presses forward in pain of childbirth to be met on the other side by love.