My first “Guest Contributor”, actually made her “donation” when she answered my email to say that she had nothing to contribute! She gave me permission to publish it; see how it is sprinkled throughout with bright pin-pricks of light:

Subject: Re: Happy Advent

“I am not sure that I am the right person to write articles at this time. Maybe by next year. I am a little short on hope, this year. I realize that only time can make things better, and Faith, that things will improve. I don’t think I will be dragging out the Christmas decorations this year. There are too many memories tied up in them, and it would only make me sad to think that [her husband] won’t be here to share the holidays with me. Next year I will be stronger and be glad to bring the memories up to the surface. Love, [a friend who recently lost her husband].

I love to examine things closely—it ensures that you haven’t missed anything; so just look at the number of phrases expressing hope:
– “Maybe by next year.”
– “time can make things better, and Faith”
– “things will improve.”
– “Next year I will be stronger”
– “..and be glad to bring the memories up to the surface.”

Even in the email responding to my request to pubish this, she says
– “glad to help, hugs–”

I’m sure she said these things because she knows in her mind that they are true, even if she doesn’t feel them in her heart. But let’s consider the possibility that she feels others would shun anything less than hearing hope in her conversation, especially at Christmas time. It came up in a recent discussion at our church, that we often insist on having a nice “bow” tied up at the end of things—meaning an ending that is pleasing, “happily ever after”, problem solved, etc.

There are millions of people who are suffering grief, especially at this time of year, as they face the loss of a loved one. It could be the first Christmas without the loved one, or not. Many had this dark valley actually happen at this time of year. (A couple I know have just lost her parent one week, and his parent the next!) These people have a need to express their grief, not bottle it up.

Not that I’m any expert, but my feeling is that if they could just know that we know—it would make a difference for them. It might add to a small spark of hope… that the valley will not always be in darkness.

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