The end-of-semester avalanche–conferring with teary students, grading endless stacks of essays, registering advisees for next semester–has made me realize that I will not be able to keep up with the page of the Advent word-a-day project. But #5 on the list has inspired me to backtrack and offer a few passing thoughts that occurred to me as I drove home last night from my daily 1,000-yard swim.
Pondering whether I would have time to write a post after making a simple supper of oatmeal–a go-to favorite for cold post-workout evenings–I suddenly realized the aptness of raise as a word to characterize Advent. Specifically, I began to understand how important it is during Advent and always to raise our hopes.
This year has provided an especially bittersweet reminder of that lesson. In July, after four and a half cancer-free years post-transplant, my husband learned that his lymphoma has returned. With that news as a substrate, subsequent tests and scans have offered the best possible updates in the form of indolent cancer for which treatments are available when it becomes symptomatic. However, even five months later, Pavel is only slowly beginning to wrest himself from the torpor that dashed the hopes for the future that are his lifeblood. He stopped going to the gym, talking long walks on crisp fall evenings, even watching the art-house films he loves. Last week, though, I could see the ember of new hope flicker in his eyes when he ordered a bicycle for me from an exclusive British company–and even more when as we sat around a campfire at the Great Dismal Swamp, slept in hammocks, and watched our aged dog frolicking in the fall leaves.
In my own life, that same ember has roared into a blaze lighting the past year with new goals and even dreams–those childish things I thought I had put away long ago. With diet and exercise, I have lost the equivalent of a person, attained a body-fat percentage of 16.7, and come to life on campus with faculty presentations and new class themes–and even participation in a 5K color run. Once again I am dreaming of that novel I should write, those Gothic cathedrals I should see, those calluses I should developing so I can play my mandolin again.
Simply raising our hopes can transform our lives. And at the present moment, through God’s infinite grace, we are enacting the greatest hope ever granted the human race.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV).