“Treasures of Darkness” illustration by Gary Gaede

Advent Day 7 – Saturday, December 8

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36–38

I tuck in his feet, swollen and cold. Feet that always took such broad, quick strides that I had to jog to keep up. I adjust the sheet behind his head and help him touch a washcloth to his mouth to wipe away excess saliva. The mouth that formed words that shaped my childhood, now silenced by ALS. I kiss his forehead and his eyes smile and he points at me and then holds up two fingers: “You too.”

“I love you, Dad.”

I quietly climb the stairs to sneak into their bedroom. Two final forehead kisses, tuck the feather blanket around their toes to keep them snug. Toes that were no longer than my fingernail when they were born. In hours, they will hit the ground, and little voices will call for me to keep up. Their chests rise and fall quietly. Living breath, life and death.

I feel helpless. Helpless to live in this in-between place. Watching death creep into the limbs and ligaments of my father, no hope of healing, only the desire for a peaceful passing.

I think of Anna spending a lifetime waiting. Left alone at such an early age, how did she continue to hold vigil through endless days and nights? Did she ever lose hope as she waited for understanding?

Abba, Father, comfort us with your presence in the darkness of the in-between places, where we have more questions than answers.

—Leah Weins