Advent Ache

Artem Balashevsky, Vitebsk, Belarus

Olga Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin’s mother-in-law, was disillusioned by the emptiness of the new ideologies and in her latter years returned to her Russian Orthodox Christian faith. Of course, only fools from the old, naive world clung to such fairy tales. Humans had evolved to higher truths. They didn’t need God anymore.

While Stalin and the adults seemed to have ignored her as a simpleton, the grandchildren mocked her. “Tell us, Babushka? Where is your soul? Show us where your soul is.”

Olga answered quietly: “I can’t show you your soul, but you will know it when it aches.”

I can’t exactly explain Advent to you, but you will know it by the ache.

In Advent, we voice the ache. In Advent, we name how the sorrows have piled up, how the wars (despite all our prayers and policies) grind on, how despair closes its icy grip. The marriage is still dead. The child still hurts. We’re enraged. Or disillusioned. Or numb.

And beneath it all, steady burns the ache. Yet if we let this weary throb do its deep work, we may find ourselves praying alongside the prophet. God, rend the Heavens and come down. Rip the sky, God. Rip my heart. Do something in this aching world.

We lift our eyes. We lift our eyes, and we ache.

10 Replies to “Advent Ache”

  1. Oh, Winn Collier, what a gift you have with words. As an introvert, I never make comments, but as I sit here with tears in my eyes, left speechless by the depth of your message, how can I not tell you how very grateful I am to you? Alongside the prophet and you, I pray, I lift my eyes, waiting, with the ache of Advent.

  2. As always Winn, you go to the heart and the need we have for light in the darkness this Advent. My heart aches from all the darkness that seems to be our world. Thank you and hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas.

  3. I so appreciate your posts all the way over here in Scotland! They are. timely, succinct and rich. You are a very gifted wordsmith.
    Thank you.

  4. Thank you for this, Winn. I was just re-reading some of the work you published with us in years past, and brother believe me when I say it still sings.

    My family and I are converting to Orthodoxy (though we have thrown our lot in with the Greeks, who are amazing!), so seeing these wise words from a fellow saint did my heart some good today. Blessings on you and the family, my friend.

    1. Jamie, so good to hear from you. I’m glad to hear you’ve found the Spirit calling you into Orthodoxy, and that you’ve said “yes.” So much resonance there for me too. Peace to you, and your family.

  5. During Advent, whether in personal or private Scripture meditations, I have a sense of great hope! The ache of my soul comes daily as I review news, personal anguish of self or others, but in advent I sense the great hope, anticipation, expectation, and relief of who our Father God and Messiah Son Jesus were, are, and will be in the future . Embodied in Advent is the only relief for our weary, sinsick world! Hope! He will be back!

  6. I thank our Good Father, Winn, that you opened your mind and heart to allow God to speak these words through you to any and all of us who are in deep distress over perhaps personal matters most urgently but who also strongly sense the larger expanse of countless others across this globe who long for, wait for, hurt for this cold old world’s tragic condition and for a final renewal by the Word of His Power. Soon…soon…soon. Meanwhile, we stand together, huddling in His Promise… learning, turning, burning in the Hope grafted in us by the Spirit of Jesus,

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