i’m still in the middle of my little personal retreat. i’m not quite ready to share what i’ve read from joseph campbell (the guy i referred to in yesterday’s post). i’m still soaking it in. i’ve been thinking about the things that he has written, but forefront on my mind today the season that is upon us now. so, that’s what i’m inspired to write about this morning as i sit under my covers, sip on my coffee and smell the candles lit in my fairly dark bedroom.
whether you think of it consciously or not, we are in a season of waiting. these gray, mostly dreary days blend into the dark nights that seem to last forever. the leaves are all gone from the trees, only wooden skeletons remain. energy is at an all-time low for the year. and just at the time when stress seems to be at an all-time high. even the news on tv & in the papers seems to be worse than ever.
where is the light? we need some light. we are stuck in darkness, doubt, pain, fear. we see & experience violence, suffering, injustice. it’s depressing. we feel alone & even hopeless. and it seems like the whole world & all of nature reflects these feelings of dread & boredom. we’re longing for a solution.
so we’re impatiently waiting. where is our salvation from this gloominess? is it coming? will we ever feel free again? but, even with all of these questions, something deep down inside of us, from our soul, reminds us that this is only temporary. light will come. the days will become longer. spring will arrive. the earth will renew itself. something will happen. it just has to.
as a believer in something spiritual, something holy & sacred, it is during this season that i see how everything is connected. and i feel something from deep within me rising up. hope. for all of the injustice, pain, & suffering that we experience in this world, something from deep within me reassures me that this is not how it is intended to be, that the world is full of beauty & love. i believe that the Holy is in everyone & everything, that we will not be stuck in this darkness forever, because we have been created to live life & to share love with one another. nature reveals this every year as the seasons pass. i can see the Holy everywhere, if i’m only aware, if i only recognize that the Holy is revealed in nature, people, in everything that is.
for me, this season of darkness, of waiting is so slow… and yet, it leaves me so breathless. it’s like knowing that something amazing is right around the corner, but not knowing exactly when it will happen. the control freak in me wants to know exactly what will happen & when. but, then again, the thought of the surprise, imagining the possibilities, dreaming of what is to come is just as exciting. and scary, too.
this season i’m speaking about is the season of advent. the season of waiting & preparation before christmas. advent (from latin) actually means “coming” or “arrival”. it is a time of longing & expectation. but, for what? what are we longing for, expecting, waiting for, preparing for? i’m waiting, longing, expecting, & preparing for hope & love.
it’s important for me to prepare… to not just walk blindly through the dark days, stressed out at all the activities, shopping, general craziness that makes up this season. it’s important to me to slow down, to remember why i celebrate christmas – to remember the people of ancient days who spoke to their communities about all of the atrocities they were involved in, how far they had strayed from living lives of justice, love, & peace. and when i hear those ancient words, i realize exactly how appropriate those words are for us today too. it’s important to me to also hear the promises of peace & joy, and the challenge for me to be a partner in making that peace & joy a reality here on earth today. i need this dark time to reflect on my part, what can i do? what have i done? what have i left undone? it’s important to me to remember that this season prepares me to accept/see/believe that the Holy breaks into the middle of life… holiness is not something way up there, far away, unable to touch or reach. it’s something so close that it’s in our breath. advent reminds me that we are not alone, we have each other, we are all connected, and we have a calling/a purpose (to follow our bliss, our soul).
advent reminds me that all of our stories are unique and yet, the same. and it’s important for me to hear again the story, the myth, of mary & the little baby born in a stable. it’s the story of something holy happening in middle of something so ordinary. a teenage girl, a dirty stable, poor shepherds, animals, a baby born into poverty. from the lowest of the low, from the outcasts in society comes hope. oh, how we’ve gotten things all mixed up. we think that money, power, prestige, success, and material things are holy & important. we think that’s where we’ll find our freedom & happiness. instead, that which touches our soul & sets us free is something much more simple.
advent reminds me of what’s important. and i keep breathlessly waiting, as i do every year, for the hope & light to break in. i am waiting to celebrate that love has come to the world… to meet us where we are, to love us as we are, and to send us forth to share that love which is acceptance, peace, joy, justice. it has come. it is with us now. it will come again. and hopefully, i will be ready. but for now, i am breathlessly waiting…
an amazing, everyday view of advent through the eyes of one of my favorite authors:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.
You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate for just an instant, far off in the depths of you, somewhere you can feel the beating of your own heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.
from whistling in the dark, by frederick buechner.
peace on your journey.