A Luminary Walk

It's an hour shy of midnight, and the only noise I hear is the tick-tick-tick of our living room clock. Finals are over.  The hall is almost empty. We leave tomorrow for eight days in Pennsylvania, and I'm wide awake, thinking about the places I've seen light this Advent.

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My dear friend and her husband are having a baby. She is the first of my friends from college to be...with child? Pregnant? A miracle worker? (Is any title less worthy? Because an honest-to-goodness miracle is unfolding right now, in her womb.) My husband and I go to their apartment to take baby announcement pictures, and a simple candle greets me from the coffeetable. I notice the flame, and think about the kinds of light that flicker small and delicate in our lives. It's not strong enough to warm our hands, but it's undeniable and worth our close attention. I think about how this baby is beginning so very small-her sister tells me he or she is now the size of a plum-and how often I despise the small things in my life.

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The Christmas Gala is not the same. It's the first one I've attended since I was a Voice major, and I should've known how different it would feel to be a spectator instead of a participant. I miss the backstage anticipation. I miss the répertoire. I miss choosing a different pair of sparkly earrings for each night of the performance, and I miss the post-Gala cheesecake that I shared with my parents. The lights dim, and I steal a glance to my left. A row full of students I know and love are sitting together, ready to enjoy the musical talents of their peers. The choir lines the two aisles and each singer holds a candle, borrowing the light from the person next to them as they sing. By the end of the piece, each candle is lit. I think on who has given me light when my own wick was snuffed, and how this season has sometimes been about illuminating a way forward for others behind me.

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I see light up ahead. Yes, there is much darkness-my swollen eyes can attest to it-but still, there is light. How I get to it and where the light leads remains a mystery; All the luminaries allow for is a few small steps. And then a few more. And then a few more.