Thinking About Advent and America. And Bowling

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Unsurprisingly, I have recently been thinking about Advent. And pregnancy. And bowling.

At one point in our marriage, my husband and I belonged to a couples bowling league that met every Saturday night. My parents belonged to the same league.

It was our habit to bowl with the league, then go out for a late snack and a beer afterward.

I associate bowling with Advent and pregnancy because I was pregnant twice in Advent during the time we bowled on Saturday nights – no, make that three times.

Once, instead of celebrating Christmas with our fellow bowlers at the league’s annual Christmas party, I spent the night in the hospital, terrified, confused, and sobbing, having suffered a miscarriage that afternoon.

The following year, I was nine months pregnant with our middle son during Advent.

Bowling while nine months pregnant is not as easy as it might seem. Your center of gravity shifts. I always felt like I waddled up to the alley and heaved the ball in the general direction of the pins, hoping for the best.

Actually, now that I think about it, I was nine and a half months pregnant during Advent that year.

For reasons I never fully understood, it took me more than the typical 40 weeks to grow a baby. The child born closest to his due date (the oldest) still arrived over two weeks late.

The middle child was due December 16, born January 9. Yes. Three and a half weeks late. Our third son was due November 12, but clung to the walls of the womb well into Advent, over three weeks past his due date. 

I am not sure if the two are actually related, but long pregnancies, for me at least, resulted in easy labor and deliveries.

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America is currently facing a dark time.

The pandemic is raging. Records for deaths, hospitalizations, and new cases are being set almost every day. People have lost their jobs, businesses are closing, lines at food pantries are long. Hospitals are short-staffed and do not have enough protective equipment, families are separated at holiday time. Suffering is real and abundant.

More than a month after a contentious and divisive election, Americans are still arguing over the outcome. Voices are raised, weapons are brandished. There have even, incredibly, been death threats made to public officials.

Some people say our country is in its death throes.

But, I think, what if the pain, darkness, and loud voices we currently see and hear are not the messiness associated with death but with birth?

What if this anguish is ushering in an era not of contention and strife but of love and compassion?

Love is fierce, relentless. It is not easily defeated. Most people yearn for it.

Americans were asked an open-ended question in a recent poll: What would you like to see your representative do when Congress begins its session in January? The second most frequent answer (by one percentage point, behind listen to constituents) was to cooperate and compromise with members of the opposite party.

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Approximately 70% of Americans self-identify as Christians. 2% identify as Jewish, 1% as Muslim, 1% as Buddhist, and 1% as Hindu.

That means a vast majority of Americans adhere to a religion that promotes, reveres, nurtures, and encourages love.

Now is our chance. Put up or shut up, so to say.

Agape in Greek means love, but not just any kind of love. It specifically delineates deliberate, purposeful, unselfish love, sweet and terrible.

That agape love is not meant solely for our friends, our families, our neighbors, or members of our political party.

In fact, the Bible explicitly says otherwise.

It is meant for our God, yes, but it must also be directed at our opponents, at those people with whom we disagree. Even with members of the opposite political party, as unbelievable as that may seem.

We Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus are incredibly asked to love people who don’t love us. We are told in no uncertain terms to see no strangers.

Justice, love, grace, truth, and a place at the table are for everyone.

What if during this pregnant pause for Advent, we remembered what is said so succinctly in 1 John: “We love because he first loved us“?

What if we succumbed to the incessant, continuous, unabating tug of peace, empathy, and understanding?

What if this long torturous waiting period resulted in the surprisingly easy labor and the birth of Love?

It is up to each one of us to make it happen. We have waited long enough. Let us give birth to love in our hearts and in the world.

Love is long past its due date.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

72 comments

  1. Hi Laurie, I feel left out. I don’t fit into the 75% of organized religion (you might recall, alien intelligent design). Maybe we need to create a category for ethicists. My code of conduct is just as stringent as a Christian’s, but I don’t meet in church to learn about it… and come to think of it, most Christians don’t either. Maybe we as a nation need to be torn down to be reborn. Maybe this is the flaming Phoenix moment of civilization, but I’m not holding out hope. I believe we’ve hit a new high in selfishness. This is seen in our response to economic turmoil, the pandemic, climate change, systemic racism, etc. Possibly the only obvious course of action is to burn it all down and start again. The past five years has ruined my sense of hope. I’m sorry to say, we’re screwed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry you feel left out, Jeff. It might surprise you to read that I often feel left out too. I know that my beliefs don’t always agree with conventional religious thought. I don’t believe our morals come from religion. There are certainly many highly ethical people I know who are not religious. I do have hope for the new year, the new administration, the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

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  2. I bowled while pregnant too! We were on a league as well and that year I actually got most improved bowler! You definitely have to shift your way of throwing the ball. Totally agree with the new beginnings. I have hope for the first time in a long time. Have a blessed holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, one scripture that I go to all the time. Love one another. God is Love and Love can solve so many things. Praying constantly for all peoples everywhere. Love your analysis and putting it together. Have a wonderful Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was sorry to read about your miscarriage. I have not had that experience. But the births of my children way past their due dates, yup on all three. I shared this post on my church Facebook page, because folks might read something t hat you wrote, t hat I can not say there. But they might hear it, they are good compassionate people I loved your punch line, it really got to me. Advent blessings friend, Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We face so many challenges – but the challenge to love as he loved us may be the biggest and most important. We need to know and experience God’s love before we can share it. May you have a blessed Christmas!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot imagine bowling while 9 months pregnant! I only had one child inside me over Advent. He was due in January and arrived 10 days late. All my other children were summer babies and born on, or before their due dates.
    I think you are right, it’s a dreadful time for the whole world but it has to be a time of rebirth, I just hope we can make it filled with love not hate.
    #mmbc

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky you, Anne! I was so ready to be NOT pregnant by the end of each of my pregnancies. I hope it is a time of rebirth. People are tired of the fighting and the divisiveness. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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  7. I can’t even imagine bowling while pregnant! My first son was well over a week past his due date when my doctor insisted we had to induce labor as he was quite large… and stubborn because even with induction it took a few days before I had him! My second came a week early and my third came pretty darn close to his due date.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I know that I can be quite pollyanna-is at times, but I truly believe that we’re heading into a different age – one that will be more compassionate and inclusive than the last. Not that we’ll wake up and be there, but that the shift is beginning. Wishing you and yours the joy of the season and thanks for your wise inspiration this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too. I hope we’re right, Jo. I believe people are tired of the strife and the constant bickering. Happy Holidays to you and your family too. Thank you for all the wonderful posts that have inspired and entertained me this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so sorry to hear of your miscarriage.

    Times certainly have changed as far as letting women go past their due dates. I was due Nov. 13th and came on the 22nd now anyone I know who is getting close to 40 weeks gets scheduled an induction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tracy. I was really young and very scared. It was in between my oldest and middle sons. I know they are much more likely to induce now. I’m glad they didn’t induce me. I had very easy labor and deliveries. My boys were ready to be born! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m sorry to hear about your miscarriage Laurie. You went on to give birth to three wonderful, healthy boys who have brought you and Bill much joy and also … grandsons – added joy. I like your line that “Love is long past its due date.” How true that is and what a year to have the bickering, divisiveness and ill will to the nth degree when instead we should be pulling together to get past the worst health crisis one could imagine in our lifetimes. But here we are, dithering over fraudulent votes and fake news, taking sides, finding fault upon fault. It’s sad and makes me very weary.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s so true that love is the way forwards! I also hope we can build more love and compassion towards each other as well as to ourselves. I sometimes wonder if things will ever really change but I think so … deep down we all want love as you say so let’s get out there and share it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Laurie, hi! And thank you for flipping the overwhelming situations that the world is facing and inviting us to see God is at work. May kindness be our byword going forward, may compassion and grace season our conversations and our writing and interactions with others, especially those who are struggling to survive.

    Christmas blessings to you, friend. I am grateful you’re in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Unfortunately, I think a lot of “Christians” have been giving Christianity a bad name lately. Although I am not religious, I’m happy to say that my religious friends embody – to me, anyway – the true meaning of their God’s words. I hope those who have lost their way find it again and embrace once again the teachings of justice, love, grace, truth, and a place for everyone at the table. Merry Christmas, Laurie!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love how you tie your stories into your wider-scope reflections, Laurie. (Wow, those late babies!!) I listened to a Calerie Kaur speech recently, and your post reminds me of her phrase about looking at wher we are—in the darkness—as “not the tomb, but the womb.” So much possibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes…those late babies! I looked up the Valerie Kaur TED talk (I think it was the one you are referring to) and listened. Wow! She said it so much better than I did!

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  15. That’s quite an interesting thought and not the first time I’ve heard it lately.
    BTW, I had an aunt who insisted that she carried all her kids for at least 10 months 🙂

    So glad you joined us at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week! Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post Laurie! ‘What if the pain, darkness, and loud voices we currently see and hear are not the messiness associated with death but with birth?’ – I love this perspective so much and it gives me hope, something we need in bucketloads right now. Wow, I can’t imagine been almost 4 weeks overdue – my son was 2 weeks overdue and then I was induced but it was a long labour (he arrived on his dad’s birthday so I didn’t mind the delay in the end, lol).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Wemi. I think doctors are more likely to induce now than when my sons were born. They did monitor the baby for signs of distress but none of my babies were big and none of my labors were long.

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  17. I love how you tied all this together. I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriages. I’m sure that it’s been a minute, but some wounds don’t completely heal this side of heaven. Thank you for talking about something so crucial to our country right now.

    Liked by 1 person

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