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I wake and know I’ve been awakened. It’s a sense as if someone is in the room with me and has been waiting. A faint light crosses the ceiling as if in streams leading to the window. But I notice it’s not the window it’s leading to. There’s a rectangular shaped…box? An envelope? Even though it’s 5:25 a.m. I send a picture of it to my son. Someone needs to witness this with me and I choose him. He’ll say, “Cool,” with a slight southern drawl.

I imagine the star in the east leading Shepherds to the manger. I don’t know where this light is coming from or what it is leading me to but I imagine I will find something. There will be a message. It will be delivered. I just don’t know when. I will watch. Wait. And listen, looking carefully.

I get up even though I would prefer to sleep a few more hours, put the tea kettle on, feed the cat (in that order even though she’s mewing), and give the dog a chew or she will sulk. It’s too early to give her breakfast, or is it? Why can the cat have her breakfast and she has to wait? It just feels too early for a dog to eat, or I’m too lazy to fix her a plate. She has her food served to her on a plate. I don’t know why. She just does. I pet the cat as she purrs and eats.

Someone needs to witness this awakening with me. You are the chosen one. We will wait for the message together. We will have to wait for guidance in every step. Wait to be shown His way. It’s hard to wait. You might get tired. But I have learned that a self poured out is one He can fill.

And then just like that it comes. The Message…

The light shown down, revealing the space where it had been. I was staring my greatest fear in the face. A fear that had somehow grabbed hold of me with its ugly clutches and all throughout my adult life would simply not release. It returned again and again in spite of my best laid plans and prayers. It was a fear I had never even wanted to admit because I was so afraid of it, but also because there were so many worse things. But this was mine. Actually there were two. And they both came true. For a time.

They say fears are a waste of time and most of the time they won’t come true but mine did. I felt faint, a spinning sort of faint, and returned to my bed to wait. As tears streamed down my face I found that a message had arrived on my phone. Surely not all hope had been lost if I cared enough to read it. I opened it up and found that Sarah, the poet, had sent a letter to Sam. Sarah, who only knew Sam through the words on my blog, had written to him. He had been gone for over five months. How did she know I would need it that night?

Sam. My dog Sam. Mr. Sam. The Samster. Sammy boy. Old Dog. We had to put him down that January. He had started sneezing that day. He had looked at me from across the room, turned away, then put his head under the couch. You know they say a dog will let you know when it’s time. I didn’t believe that but then just like that, I did. It was time. He let me know. I made the call and it was a good call. It was time.

Mr. Sam and I made it through that day together moment by moment and now I was making it through the night moment by moment. It was as though he had come to help me through it. The great Poet had come. I read the letter and thought to myself, that if my words could make it possible for someone to love Sammy, someone who had only experienced him through my words, then I would keep writing. Writing would become my new purpose. In spite of my fear coming true.

A peace descended over me at 3:00 a.m. like I had never experienced before. Peace like a river, they say. I had never felt such peace. That happens when fear disappears. I had stared both my fears straight in the face and fallen upon grace. I had found renewed purpose. And I began to discover what joy really was. True joy. The joy that can only come to you through your deepest darkest nights. Because when a self is poured out, it is a self He can fill. With joy.

Advent: A time for joy (and new adventures)

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