Advent and the Unexpected Vigil

By Jan Richardson

Image: Heartbeat Liturgy © Jan L. Richardson

(Cross-posted from The Painted Prayerbook)

Friends, you may have already heard this news through another place or person that connects us, but in case you haven’t, I want to share an update with you and ask for your prayers. My amazing husband, Garrison Doles, is in the midst of a medical crisis that has turned our lives inside out. Last week, Gary went into the hospital to address a brain aneurysm that had been discovered during the summer (in a fluky fashion, in the process of checking out something else that proved not to be a problem). We had hoped he would be able to have a less invasive procedure called coiling, but the aneurysm proved too complex, and he was taken into surgery. During an eleven-hour surgery, Gary had a stroke, and has had two additional surgeries to address brain swelling. He has been in a medically induced coma and will be emerging from that over the course of the coming days.

We don’t yet know the extent of the damage from the stroke. Based on what Gary’s remarkable neurosurgeon is telling us, there is cause for great concern and great hope. I would be tremendously thankful for your prayers and good thoughts for Gary, his wondrous medical team, and our families.

Some kind folks have asked about the online Advent retreat that Gary and I were planning. I’ve decided to still offer it, with the understanding that it will look rather different than we originally planned. I find myself reluctant to give up the chance to walk through the coming season in the company of kindred spirits.

If you’re interested in entering Advent with your eyes wide open—looking honestly and anew at seemingly familiar Advent themes such as mystery, waiting, hope, keeping vigil, and longing for light in the deepest darkness—and if you’re game for a bit of adventure and uncertainty about what it will all look like, then this is the place for you. I’d love to travel in your company. If you’re one of the folks who has already signed up, thank you and bless you!

I’d be grateful if you would let other folks know about the retreat by sharing a link to this post or to the retreat overview page (Illuminated Advent Retreat) via Facebook or anywhere else you’re connected. This would be such a wonderful gesture of support for Gary and me in this time. Most of all, I would be so tremendously thankful for your prayers in these days of keeping vigil and beginning to navigate a road that we never imagined traveling.

I send you much gratitude and many blessings as Advent approaches.

Illuminated Advent Retreat

11 Responses to “Advent and the Unexpected Vigil”

  1. Barbara Nelson Says:

    My prayers are with you both.

  2. Deb Brubaker Says:

    Jan and Gary – Holding you in prayer, holding you in the light. Praying for strong miracles to be made manifest. In love, Deb

  3. Marie Says:

    Sorry to hear about this crisis…lifing you and the medical staff up in my praying. May God comfort your heart in these days of uncertainty.

  4. Elaine Hartung Says:

    Jan, Right there next to you and Gary stands The Almighty – lovingly keeping watch. I will join you and all the others in prayer during this very holy time.
    God bless Gary, you and all the medical team.

  5. Connie Warkentin Says:

    On this difficult path to what is unknown, I am holding you in prayers for healing and hope as you are being held in the embrace of God’s tender care, Peace to you, Connie

  6. Andrea Westkamp, OSB Says:

    Dear Jan,

    Thanks for your sharing. We just can never anticipate what our seasons will turn into and what they will hold for us. Know that Gary and you are in my prayers.

    May the blessings of Advent enfold both of you,
    S. Andrea

  7. Georgia Says:

    Dear Jan,

    I am sorry to learn of your husband’s medical crisis. My prayers and positive thoughts go out to both of you during this time of waiting and uncertainty. May you feel God’s peace and presence as you keep vigil.

    With blessings and love,

  8. Lynne Caldwell Says:

    Dear Jan, Our prayers are surely with you and Garrison. May the Great Healer bring strength and wholeness to Garrison–body, mind and spirit.
    Love and prayers for both of you, Jan.

    Trusting in grace upon grace,
    Lynne Blankenship Caldwell

  9. Jill Kelley Says:

    You are being held by the Christ child, and the angels are keeping watch.
    I am sending healing energy and the light of my spirit to help illuminate your pathway.

    A Lamp of Love,
    Jill Kelley

  10. David Morrison Says:

    Jan: I obviously have never met you, but I feel like I know you through your amazingly beautiful work, and my heart is heavy and broken for you and your family. My prayers are with you all in your mourning as you weave between the “shadows of Advent and the light of Christmas.”

  11. Diana Leonard Says:

    Dear Jan, It is with tears that I read of Gary’s passing on this cloudy 1/18. so often you both have been in my thoughts and grateful rememberings. never do I read or hear the Creation story with out seeing and hearing you illuminating the wonder of it with your whole being. I am so grateful for your faith, your love for others, and your deep commitment to growing the gifts God has given you. Although I am no longer with the Grunewald Guild, i am ever grateful for the wonderful, inspiring, dear ones whose lives have so enriched my own.
    God bless you and keep you in the palms of Love, all ways. Diana Leonard

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