Rain woke the day. Earth spilling its grief through misty fog. The alarm sounds and I pull covers over my head. Where do you go when all hope is spent? When you’re feeling as if you’re headed into a deficit? When this day will most likely be the same as the day before and the one before that? Yesterday little man and I unpacked the nativity. It’s the set that’s traveled the years with us from newly wed to newly parent and everything between. Carved from soapstone it’s unassuming small, far from fancy still a gentle reminder of what’s to come, of what came in that unsophisticated out of the way stable. I reach in the basket finding Mary. Stroking her simple frame I think of the journey ahead. The long back breaking miles on a less than comfortable ride in a body being stretched thick with child. Unknowns everywhere like minefields….like my life. Questions that can’t be answered until you’ve arrived, gone through. Anyone on a journey knows that hope is what keeps the weak strong, it’s what sings in the dark when there is no way clear. It is the still voice that pushes you through the next dark shadow that whispers “I am with you even unto the end”. I think of the hope Mary had. Waiting expectantly for God’s only son to arrive. Knowing after hundreds and hundreds of years she was chosen for this. We light the hope candle over dinner a reminder of her journey, our journey, to the manger. Mary’s shadow streaming in the light following that slow winding road to the place where hope becomes reality. In a time where we procure things nearly instantaneous to our desires we forget that hope grows in a place of waiting. In the agonizing moments of our lives where we lay our wants down and wait for what God will do, hope shows up. A hope that will not disappoint because his love is being poured out into our hearts. I glance over to the manger, this tiny babe lying among the straw with the sheep and the shepherds. A lump catches in the throat. God promised and He came through. After all the dark years of waiting, waiting for the promise of what was to come, hope carried, hope was alive. Clean out of hope like me today? Come, let’s journey to the manger. God, becoming man, living among us, with us. He is here. And somehow in the middle of pain and questions and weary hearts we find ourselves soaring on wings of eagles. Of believing that in this moment, in my journey, in yours…like Mary, we were chosen for this. We have a purpose, a destination. This is not the end. There is more, so much more to come.