The Advent Writings, Day 13: Exoletus

Exoletus: grow up, become adult; grow stale, deteriorate; die out/fade away; be forgotten.
(Source: William Whitaker’s Words)
Anybody else out there forgetful?
Ah – I see. Just me, then. Alrighty.
And no, my forgetful thing isn’t just a result of having pushed the boulder up the hill for 50 years, and now it’s rolling down the other side and I can’t keep up with it. Ok, that might be some of it, but not da whole ting… We, as human beans, are forgetful.
It’s not just for fun or grins that the Bible tells us over and over to “remember,” to “forget not,” to place the stones and recall what God has done, to talk with our children about God’s law and to teach them, which results in us learning it well ourselves, truthfully. We forget. We forget the basics, we forget the wonderful, we forget the astonishing…
But somehow we have amazing recall when it comes to the bad, the painful, the insults, the disappointments, the hurt. 20/20 memory right there, baby. Ask me about being embarrassed in front of the whole school at an assembly in 3rd grade, and it’s right there. Ask me what I did yesterday? Um… ah… nope. Nuttin’.
Now, taking my usual left turn from “wander mode” into “wander into something else mode,” how does it feel to BE forgotten? It’s less painful to be the one forgetting – after all, you don’t remember it. But to be forgotten? I imagine that’s one of those things that gets filed along with the other disappointments and letdowns in total recall memory. So it’s there to stay. Lovely.
I thought it was really interesting to look at this word from my (and your) trusty source, William Whitaker’s Words:
Exoletus: grow up, become adult; grow stale, deteriorate; die out/fade away; be forgotten
I’ve never claimed to know the least thing about Latin… Oh, except for the “correct” pronunciation of Gloria In Excelsis Deo – that one I got. (Side note – of course, like all geeky music kids, singing it “Gloria in Ex-Shellfish Deo” during a Sunday service has been known to happen in my past. I’m not proud of it, and less proud of the fact that I still sing it that way on occasion, but usually not in church. I’ve matured…)
Anyway, I found the progression in the definition of exoletus really fascinating – grow up, become adult, grow stale, deteriorate, die out/fade away, be forgotten. I know – these aren’t really supposed to go together. The semi-colon divides them in the definition, but when I use commas, doesn’t it look like a picture of the human journey? Grow up, become adult. THEN, grow stale, deteriorate. FINALLY, die out/fade away, be forgotten.
Wow. Once again, the holiday cheer that radiates from these musings leaves one breathless. Gasping, as it were.
How does it feel to be forgotten? Are you one of the many, many folks who finds very little joy in Advent? There’s a lot of dark in this season of light. Memories of disappointments, of loved ones who are gone, taking with them some of the only happiness we ever felt in Christmas, of promises never kept, of gatherings never invited to, of loneliness so thick that it chokes us – and all stored in perfect recall memory, to be remembered at a moment’s notice, augmented with extra bitterness from the erosion of time. Things will never be THAT good again, the pain will NEVER ease, the hurt will never be LESS deep.
My dear one, you’re what God had in mind when He invented Advent. It’s about hope.
And now, this just in from the “God has a great sense of irony” department…

I had just written those words about hope when my phone rang. I answered it, got the news that a job I was being considered for went to the other person, hung up, and re-read what I had written…

My dear one, you’re what God had in mind when He invented Advent. It’s about hope.

And God says, “so, big boy, do you believe that stuff you spout off? Do you really see hope? Or do you only remember the hurts, the failures, the disappointments? You put in the job application because you were being obedient to Me, and you knew that the outcome was and is in My hands, so what will you choose to do now?”

Of course, I went on my merry way, wagging my tail, smiling and humming a lovely carol.


This application had been a lesson in obedience – take the step, then leave it ALL completely in God’s hands. No thinking about it, no dwelling on it, no considering the scenarios, no planning and scheming and dreaming – hands and mind OFF! Knowing that, resting in my Father’s will, learning the lesson and moving on went pretty well… until last night when I went completely ape-crazy for a while.

My Father patiently watched my ranting and doubting, my very, very human reactions, my out- of-control emotions, and then He watched over me as I slept.

And in the morning, I returned to these words, my words, His words, and said, “Yes. I do believe them. And I’m trying, imperfectly, to live them.”
My dear one, you’re what God had in mind when He invented Advent. It’s about hope.
I’m not forgotten. All the failures and disappointments I can summon in perfect recall, even the most recent ones, even the last twenty-four hours, have no power to diminish what Advent means. The One who came to this world came to bring light, and that light overcomes our darkest corners. It banishes shadows. It conquers all.
He IS the light.
So now, you know that I’m not just writing these little pithy phrases to tickle our Advent ears. I’m not sitting on a lofty seat, dispensing jewels of wisdom to the masses. (The mental picture of me sitting on a lofty seat, dispensing wisdom is sufficient to make me laugh so loud I snort… And usually the Eldest Niecelet is the only one that gets away with that sort of thing… the snorting, I mean. She does dispense wisdom, but the snorting is really her trademark. If it ever gets on YouTube, she’ll be set for life. I’m just sayin’.)
I’m just a garden variety dufus, trying to work out my faith with fear and trembling, as the Word tells me to do. Ok, I’m much, much more than that – and so are you.
What I am NOT, is forgotten. I’m not any of those failures or disappointments that I can recall so vividly. I’m not lost in darkness, I’m not wandering with no path, and I am not hopeless. Not now, not ever. And, for the record, neither are you. How do I know that?…
“For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness He brings…The zeal of GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG)
So as we grow up, we don’t have to grow stale. As we fade away, we won’t be forgotten.
If this season is more about sadness than celebration for you, if you’ve taken too many hits from a falling economy or a broken family, if this present darkness seems to be covering your eyes, look up! See the Light, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth! He knows you, He loves you, and He NEVER forgets you. Never.
Advent is all about hope!
Exoletus: grow up, become adult; grow stale, deteriorate; die out/fade away; be forgotten
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
John 1:4 (NIV)


  1. Cal,
    I discovered just yesterday that you were in the running for this job. It explained something I thought I saw cross your face when we passed Tuesday eve. Anyway, as I put things together, I felt awful. I thought, “Lord, what do we do here?” I decided, at some point, we should talk.

    And then I read this.

    What you’ve discovered and here articulated is so beautiful. You’re a very gifted writer, my friend (add that to the list). You’re so right – Christmas says it is not all about us in the ways we want it to be, and yet, it is all about us in the only way that matters!

    We should talk…

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