Advent

Become eight years old again for a moment.  Come with me to my first night at summer camp.  The excitement was overwhelming.  I had a new sleeping bag, a new flashlight, and I felt like a real grown-up.  I was at camp.  I was fearless.  The boys in my cabin arrived one by one – their parents giving them that wonderful and terrible gift of the goodbye kiss.  Hoping nobody saw, I said goodbye to my mother and hurriedly ran into my new cabin holding all my new camping gear.

 The cabin was a cedar A-Frame with 9 or so bunks on the bottom floor and a ladder going straight up through the ceiling into the second floor.  We weren’t allowed up there because, as misfortune would have it, just last week a camper had fallen through the hole and broken an arm.  I found out later, it’s a little story they tell every week to keep people from actually having to break an arm.

 I dumped my new sleeping bag and ran out to greet all my new friends.  We played games and sang songs and learned secret handshakes that only our cabin-mates could do – that would ensure our cabin was never infiltrated by an outsider, then it was time to go to sleep.  Our counselor laid down the nighttime rules for us and turned off the lights.

 The lights!  I’d forgotten all about the lights.  My nightlight was carelessly left plugged into the wall at home, and I’m petrified.  My new friends don’t seem to mind, but I, I can’t possibly fall asleep when I can hear noises outside the cabin and bears and raccoons and pirates are just outside waiting for me to fall asleep so they can slip in the door and carry me off to my doom.

 Plus, I’m sleeping in the corner, which is the darkest of all places.  I’m beginning to get frantic when the wind begins to blow.  Normally this would cause things to get worse, but this time, the wind blew the hanging beach towels off of their perches allowing light from a nearby light pole to sneak into the cabin through the cracks and knotholes.    A long, thin shaft of light came through a knothole and landed on my pillow.  Just enough security to fall asleep.

 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

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