The two words that keep coming up this Advent season for our family are beautiful and brutal. That seems to best describe our first Advent/ Christmas season without Anna. She was so good at making a house into a home, specifically during this season. All of the touches, big and small, made this one of the favorite times of year for our family.
It was beautiful watching Moriah meticulously string the lights on the tree just so, a job that was reserved for Anna until this year. Moriah took on the task without being asked and invited Hadassah to be her helper, the way Anna invited Moriah to be her helper for so many years. It was fairly brutal placing all of the ornaments on the tree. Our first year of marriage Anna and I stated collecting ornaments each time we went on a trip or shared a memorable experience. Anna included the kids in this tradition once they came along, so the girls each have their glass “Clara” from the first time they went to the Nutcracker with Mom. Many family trips have their own ornament, memories that now hang on the tree. Reminiscing and retelling those stories with just the four of us this year was both brutal and beautiful.
What was also beautiful and brutal was creating our Christmas card. That was always Anna, 100% Anna to a T! She couldn’t imagine doing a stock template so she would spend hours and hours designing our annual card, writing the words on the back, picking every color and font. Moriah and I knew we wanted to get a card out, but also knew we didn’t have a clue how to do that. Thankfully, we figured out how to log into Anna’s card creating account, used an “Anna created template” from a previous card, and did our best to complete the project. At the end of the night we finalized the card and hit send to print. Moriah and I shared a long hug and said, “It’s not the card we never wanted to design, but we did it together.” It’s beautiful and brutal.
I guess that’s the story of Jesus…beautiful and brutal. So beautiful the way he lived, cared for people, valued friendship and responded to the love of his Father. So brutal the way he died, was abandoned by even his closest companions, that his love was rejected by so many.
As we round the corner and look toward Dec 25, the celebration of the birth and life of Jesus, may we embrace both the beautiful and brutal in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. The reality for us all is brutal is inevitable. Thankfully beauty seems to have a way of always having the last word.