Come and cheer

A few weeks ago, around a campfire and laughter, someone asked the question: What is your irrational fear? The myriad of fears present were surprising, and some of them somewhat laughable.


A car accident.

My roommates try to logic me out of this on a regular basis, but whenever possible, I pass the car keys to someone else. Their logic is that wherever I am sitting in a car, if there is an accident, I will still be in it. But it isn't the fear of being hit or even dying. The fear is that I will cause the accident.

A friend asked me why last night, after I passed him my keys. Why the fear? I suppose the accidental death of one brother and the near death of my Mom in a separate incident leaves me somewhat shaky, but really, I'm a safe driver with only one ticket under my belt (for an expired inspection) nothing else to show for my fear. It's irrational, I know.

It's a shadow of a fear, a fear of something that has cast a long shadow in my direction.

It's death's dark shadow.

And yet, it's not death I fear. It's that hulking, overwhelming, aching isness of death. Death is not anything, it is a void, but that void is more present than any tangible thing I know. I feel it close this advent season. Cancer. Dialysis. Miscarriage. Suicide. Wherever it can, life steals itself from us, slinking into the long, dark night like the cloaked bandit it is.

That ache sits heavy. That shadow casts long.

There is nothing, nothing, that can fix that and the more I live, the more death comes knocking, the more I know that there is no cheer on earth to be found when we sit shell-shocked holding a sobbing friend. We are indignant for moments: so young! So good! So much life to be lived still! We are quietly broken, we are resolute, beating this thing. But at the end, when there is nowhere else to go, when cheer is far, far from us, we can know only this:

He has come. And He is coming.

He has come with that broken new cry, the cheer of birth, even a lowly one.

And He is coming with that final and perfect cheer. That last hurrah. That final trumpet.

Bringing a light so encompassing and infiltrating that no shadow will remain, no darkness will linger, and no death forevermore.

Oh come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Thy people with Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!