advent 4: cardboard signs

“Go Evi, Take State.”
The black spray-paint letters were scribbled on cardboard held up by electric fence posts.  A high-school track athlete, running late for the bus like always, I slowed my cheap school car and sat in my red and white sleeveless uniform and stared at the signs that dotted our country driveway.  It was only after a minute that I could compose myself to touch the gas pedal, feeling a different kind of weight than pressure to run fast: the pressure of a hug without arms.
My mom is the hugger, giving gifts, always telling us she loves us, but my dad–a German Lutheran farmer–loves differently.  At my grandpa’s funeral one of the men on the council said to me, “Your dad doesn’t say much, but when he does, we listen.”  So when my dad took the time to nail up those signs along driveway, it was like a wrung to hold onto, a concrete for the untouchable. 
His quiet love sat there shouting.

Sometimes love is expressed from a distance.  God’s love can feel like that, like it’s removed from our daily, off somewhere on a cloud, but Jesus comes–physical, alive, breathing, sweating, crying, living, dying–to be WITH US on a Night that was nothing but Silent.  Christmas, like my dad’s track signs, should slow our cheap school cars down as we marvel at a love so showy, so on display, so concrete–the ultimate wrung to hold onto.  

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