We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who
have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait . . .  Romans 8:22-25

Anyone who’s been there knows how it is, trying to sleep in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Laying half upright, supported with an odd assortment of pillows, you drift off for a few moments or hours, only to be awakened by a pressing bladder.  Returning to bed, you prop on one side, struggling to breathe and arranging the pillows once again.

But your hip is sore by now and, groaning, you launch yourself upright, faced with the question of how to roll over.

Through all of this, your soundly sleeping husband snores.

When I was pregnant with twins, we joked about installing one of those cranes they use for transporting large marine mammals in the bedroom ceiling to use for turning me in the night.  Instead, I learned to use my husband’s back for leverage.  Wrapping my arm around him, I shifted my bottom to the side and laid that giant belly gently down, emitting a weary groan with every movement.

We laughed about it during the day, but at night, I meant those groans with every ounce of breath I could muster and they helped me move, lifted me, and carried me through until the next time I woke to waddle to the toilet or ease another aching hip.

We had a pre-term labor scare at thirty-four weeks with the twins and from then on I was sure those babies were going to come early.  This only made the waiting longer as we passed thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven weeks.  By the end, I could hardly walk more than a few steps at a time and I took to riding the motorized shopping carts on rare outings, my legs spread wide to leave room for that belly full of babies between my lap and the steering wheel.  

I was desperate.  I was done with waiting.  I was groaning.

I don’t know about you, but this seems to be about the way I come into Advent each year – tired, weary and filled with longing as the long, dark days press in.

Maybe this is part of the reason I love the melancholy songs of Christmas best – the ones in minor key that beg for the coming of Emmanuel.  Something in these songs, it seems, recognizes that underneath the shining lights and tinsel, the world itself, all of creation, is indeed groaning as it turns in the night, waiting for the gift that is to come.

This post is linked with Playdates With God.

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