Monday, December 12, 2011
Waiting usually involves quiet expectation, a period of idleness even, a time to gather thoughts and energy for an important event. But Advent, that time set side to wait and prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, contains little of those qualities any more.
I love Advent, but I struggle this year to find the peace it offers. I feel as if I’m standing on a platform while an express train hurtles past, warning me to hustle, hurry, get things done. I try to find the stillness inside, but the world calls out that nothing interior matters, except reflection on the gifts I should want, the food I must prepare, the decorations I must hang. Buy it now. Eat it now. Do it now.
I read of the failure of the Kyoto protocol on the environment, the struggles of the Occupy movement, and the imposition of ever more draconian security legislation, and I feel as if we have lost sight of all vision and all hope for the future. But that is exactly what Advent is about.
Advent calls me to reflect on the future, on what is to come, as Mary did, as Joseph did. It tells me to take risks for peace, for love and for all those who are to come. It reminds me that life isn’t easy but with our eyes turned toward the divine and our ears tuned toward the angels we might have a chance. And where do we find this divine? With the meekest, the poorest, and the most vulnerable, into whose arms the messiah was born.
I don’t do enough in my life for God or my neighbor, but Advent allows me to begin again, to try harder, maybe to reach higher this time. I force myself to find time for reflection and prayer in this busy season. It fills me then, this spirit of hope. It fills me and reminds me that Mary and Joseph struggled too, that their path was hard and their world imperfect. But they answered the angel anyway. They said yes. Maybe we can too.