How can it possibly be Advent again? The beginning of another liturgical year, at least in churches that think in that cyclical, rhythmic way. The beginning of a brief, intentional time of preparation in advance of the feast of the nativity, to the Christmas celebration. Advent is a quiet time for deep introspection, for noticing interior movement, the point being, of course, that we are being made ready to receive what God has to offer.
What I know for myself more strongly with each minute and day is that I need solitude and discipline to discern what it is to which I am I being invited. What there might be for me to do or to be. To borrow Advent’s language, what it is to which I am being invited to give life. It seems the whole pregnancy/giving birth concept belongs not to Mary alone.
For non-Christians and for Christians as well, Christmas is not so much a religious feast as it is a cultural event. In reality, Christmas is an economic phenomenon, that truth made plain in a raw way on black Friday just passed with the death of a Long Island NY Wal-Mart employee, trampled by before-dawn shoppers intent to get their hands on “door buster” deals: $28.00 vacuum cleaners, $69.00 digital cameras, $379.00 laptops. The disconnect between a sweet celebration of God-come-to-earth and humanity’s focus seems fairly complete, shoppers distraught not at the under-foot death in their midst the day after Thanksgiving, but at having to leave the store during its temporary closure.
With that harrowing scene marking Advent’s arrival I cannot help but think that Advent, taken to heart if only in a minimal way, might be a good and beneficial thing, even for those not drawn to organized religion. The invitation to measuring one’s choices and activities in a place of peacefulness might make for a bit of redirection.
The season of Advent reminds me that existence itself is an open-ended prospect. I can wait and observe fretfully and critically or I can wait and observe hopefully and with an air of expectation.
Advent. I welcome it today, glad the cycle has brought it back around.