The night is black outside.
Inside, candles are lit. Tealights glow in mason jars and one candle in a circle of tapers flickers. I sit in a hard pew with seven strangers in a tiny, old church. The drive here was harrowing. Country roads. No lights. Gusty wind.
Inside, all is quiet. This sanctuary is just that. Beautiful. Peaceful.
After moving us through prayers and readings, a priest with long robes and a stiff white collar says that we’re going to talk about death during this, the first of four weekly evening gatherings between now and Christmas.
It seems an unlikely advent topic to me.
In the next twenty minutes he reminds me that there is a God, and it’s not me. I have a Maker. All of humanity does. Eight of us sit listening – breathing – stilling ourselves to hear and he reminds us that from dust we came and to dust we will return. Something is deeply comforting in this moment. Outside this tiny space is farmland, and, miles away, a city. People rush around there, doing things. Busy.
Here, we have stopped.
We are being reminded of Truth.
God made the world.
He made us.
Death comes to us all. It is not the end. He will take us to Him.
And, of course, this being an advent service, there are hints of something good on its way. Right here, right now, we know that God sent us help and hope. We are not in this dark world, doomed to die, alone.
We have each other.
And we have Him.
He has us. He always has. That is perhaps the most healing aspect of these moments – the reminder that our human history is infused with His presence. Sometimes He seems uninvolved.
He has not failed to notice us. We are, after all, His. Sometimes I forget, but here in this tiny, old, quiet place, it is easier to believe that we are enveloped by Him.
He always has been.