On this first Sunday of Advent, my family just completed our yearly tradition of lighting our Advent wreath. The first candle represents “hope,” and it is the one lighted each subsequent week. This candle’s sides are the most curled, its wick the shortest of the five. Perhaps hope works the hardest to endure the waiting. Hope is embodied when any child makes a Christmas list, wakes early on Saturdays to do extra chores, picks out “the best Christmas tree ever,” asks over and over when the decorating begins, and shakes each gift with anticipation.
Hope sheds the first light on first day of every journey toward the manger. But alone, its light only extends so far. Hope does its best work in dispersing darkness just enough to see, in showing its tentative glow to other following hopefuls, and in waiting for the Ultimate Light to be revealed.