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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Wednesday, December 1

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
—Ecclesiastes 1:9

He may not be as poetic as the writer of Ecclesiastes, but Yogi Berra knows a truth when he sees one. "It seems like it's déjà vu all over again," he remarked when Yankee hitters Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle scored back-to-back home runs. 

We smile at the absurdity of Berra's wit, and yet we also nod our heads in agreement: there is nothing new under the sun. Every beginning, every loss, every seemingly fresh desire has its roots in something we've experienced before.

While we tend to think of our lives as linear progressions from birth to death, we live our lives as spirals. We grow and change, of course, but we also revisit the same worn ground. Never seeming to "get it," we continually re-experience those pivotal moments that make us who we are. Call them paradigms, call them archetypes, or simply call them life—they are the events by which we mark our days.

The early mothers and fathers of the church "got" this. They, like the writer Wendell Berry, understood a view of life that was "obedient to its processes, patient in its taking away, faithful to its returns." That our fortunes are tied to the same ebb and flow of the earth, the same cycle of birth and death and resurrection, was not a foreign concept to them. 

An agricultural people, they traced the year through its seasons—the fallow time, the planting and growing time, the harvest time. One led inexorably into another; none could be left out.

And so we begin again. In this season of Advent, this time to prepare for the nativity of Christ, we descend once more into dark. Light wanes, earth cools. We, like the soil, lie fallow. What will be has been before; what has been before will be. Silent, we wait in the stillness of night, knowing an absence as blinding as the birth of any new sun.

O God, in whom darkness and light are the same, may our waiting be rich with hope and our hearts insatiable for you.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2004.