Awaiting Advent

I am awaiting Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. I am very excited for this hushed season to begin yet I am trying hard not to wish away the present moment. The other day, I heard my inner voice say, “I can’t wait!”

We are a culture that cannot wait. We seem to enjoy the anticipation more than we enjoy the actual event. Evidence of this abounds. About three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving, Christmas consumerism presses us to begin celebrating earlier and earlier. Decorations go up in most cities and Christmas carols are blaring in every store. I even saw a Salvation Army “soldier” tinkling her bell outside Hobby Lobby last week. We begin buying gifts feverishly, as though we lived in the land of scarcity.

While I love the Christmas season probably more than anyone, I also love the waiting that proceeds it. I learned this from religiously living the liturgical seasons when I was a very little girl growing up in Minnesota. Curiously, I recall awaiting the big events more than the holidays themselves–the shift in the things we did, the rituals we performed, the changes in tone, mood, and attitude. Usually, the first snow fell during this time in early November. I loved waking to a world lit up with whiteness. Even then, “I could not wait”– until Advent!

Here in Southern California, almost everyone will put up their Christmas lights and decorate their homes either before or during the Thanksgiving weekend which just happens to coincide with the beginning of Advent. Seems like nearly everyone is preparing for this work–except me. I am awaiting Advent.

I am looking forward to assembling my Advent wreath with greenery and pinecones. My search is on for candles that are purple and pink, not green and red. I have dusted off my favorite Advent books: The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, Seasons of Glad Songs by Tessa Bielecki and David Denny, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John Lynch, Starlight by John Shea, Kneeling at Bethlehem by Ann Weems, and a childhood favorite called Nancy and Plum by Betty McDonald. Reading from each of these in the early morning hours will provide interior spaciousness during the waiting and ample food for lectio divina, the basis of my daily meditations. I am planning Advent rituals and thinking about the Jesse Tree instead of our Christmas tree. I know I am a “voice crying in the wilderness,” at this time of year but I don’t care. Awaiting Advent fills me with joy and makes the eventual celebration of Christmas even more luminous.

I am awaiting Advent just as I await all that is holy and good to be revealed each and every day. I am awaiting Advent so that I can await the Incarnation for four weeks, beginning on November 27th, and ending with Light’s emergence, slow and steady, from the darkness of winter around December 25th. I can and do await, with and for, all of you.

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