Alison Montgomery Fischer
Advent 3 Reflection / Story – December 20, 2017
All Souls Episcopal Parish – Berkeley
This reflection was offered at the All Souls Advent Taize service during the third week of Advent.
On a cold January day in 2013, at the age of 27, I had a surgery that drastically improved my quality of life but completely eliminated any chance for me to give life and bring a child into this world. My beloved partner was supportive and remained by my side. Jason and I were hopeful this surgery would provide the opportunity to be healthy enough to, perhaps, have the capacity to be the mother a child deserves. We were grateful for a chance of relief and for the medical care but we were heartbroken that this was the hand we had been dealt. Being sick and barren were not in either of our plans, yet this was our reality.
The night before my surgery, I spent the evening with my eight-month-old niece who continues to be the splitting image of my sister. We had a wonder filled evening together and she even crawled for the first time with me. At one point, she sat in my lap as we faced each other and I was in awe of this precious child and the beauty of genetics and creation. Three tears fell down my face as my heart processed what would never be for my future. This precious eight month old responded by reaching up, wiping a tear from my face and falling into my chest for an embrace. At that moment, we belonged to each other.
When you experience a major illness, it is necessary to mourn the loss of health and however it affects your life. I was deep in grief and anger and felt as if I was wondering and lost through a dark and dry desert that was void of life. I knew God was present in this darkness but felt as if we were staring at each other in silence with a considerable distance between us.
In February, we received an invitation to attend a service at Grace Episcopal Church with a friend who was seeking an inclusive faith community. This congregation was meeting in the chapel of another church and it was an intimate setting flooded with light from three walls of floor to ceiling windows. The female preacher, who would become a dear friend of ours, spoke of the courage we are able to find in Christ and fed both my and Jason’s souls. The hymns were sentimental favorites from my youth and the joyful worship from the congregation consumed the chapel with praise and love.
At the Eucharist, we watched the congregation travel through the aisles to partake in Christ’s feast. My attention was drawn to the numerous adoptive, foster, and biological families that were abounding with love for each other and for Christ. The community was teeming with children and it was difficult to discern who the parents were by the commitment and love the entire congregation had towards raising them up. Jason and I knew we had found our home. Christ was leading us out of the darkness.
Since my hysterectomy, my understanding of Advent has transformed with a deeper appreciation for the couple who birthed and raised a baby who, in many respects, was not their own. Christ’s arrival through his miraculous birth in the dark of night and in the middle of a desert, continues to serve and lead the hopeless and lost into the Light. The light that shines through these cold and dark nights are what I cling to, as the Light of Christ remains eternal.