Advent (Hope): In the Dark

I can remember Lydia and me guiding our three children down into our 100 year old basement during tornado season in Birmingham, tornado sirens blaring.  Every time we got up at midnight or 3:00 AM and gathered our little ones up to take them to the basement with the scary sounds going on, we became more aware of how our actions toward safety, however necessary, became fear inducing events.

Once, tornadoes had already hit in adjacent neighborhoods, and there we were, again, waking them up in the dead of night to go down to the basement, and wait.  The threat of what we might be waiting for was overwhelming, and the fear in our children was approaching hysteria.  In the midst of that, it occurred to me:  “you know what?  Our house is over 100 years old!”  That stopped some of the sobbing.  “What do you mean?” one of them asked.  “I mean, our house has been sitting here in this neighborhood for over 100 years.  Tornadoes don’t come down our street.”

It was a very risky gamble.  What I was after was some immediate comfort, and it worked. Our children settled down, and we waited out yet another (of many more) storm in our basement in the middle of the night.  I’ve often reflected on that.  There really is something hopeful about a 100 year old house that has stood the test of time.  For that matter, there is something hopeful, and comforting, and consoling and wise about many things that stand: an ancient oak tree, a 2000 year old story, a 5000 year old faith tradition, a 50 year old friendship,  a fossil, a flame kindled, again, in the dark.

When you find yourself in the dark again, and you will, what long standing thing gives you hope?  Claim it now, and take it into the basement with you.  Sit with it.  Wait.  That’s how hope works.  We often only find our hope while sitting in the dark.

Bob Patrick

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