Several years ago, my husband made me a jewelry box for Christmas. He purchased pieces of maple from a specialty shop, then measured and cut the wood, sanded it, stained it in a caramel color, and fastened it together with metal and leather. He lined the inside with velvet, creating compartments for bracelets and rings. When I opened the box, I was delighted: not just because of its craftsmanship, but because it was something I hadn’t known I needed, hadn’t thought to ask for, hadn’t imagined could exist.
Some gifts are like this. They’re wonderful not because they’re a variation on a category of things everyone already knows you like, such as books or sweaters or wine. (Though those kinds of presents are nice, too, showing that you’re known.) Instead, they’re entirely unexpected, outside the realm of what you thought possible. It’s not that you longed for a jewelry box and now your longing is realized. It’s that you never gave it one thought until now, until it became just what you needed.
That is what I’m asking God for this Advent: surprises, impossibilities, unexpected solutions, the working out of things in ways I can’t envision.
All year, I’ve been asking for particulars: medicines, vaccinations, open hospital beds. Cold freezers and smooth distributions. Certain electoral outcomes. Justice that looks a certain way. Peace that I can picture. Agreement (i.e. everyone else agreeing with me). I’ve seen what I want for this world, and I’ve been furious when it hasn’t come to pass.