Tomorrow Advent begins, ushering in the season of waiting and watching for Christ to come, and starting, as it does each year, a new church year in a place of longing.
I don’t feel ready for Advent, ready for Christmas, ready to kick off a new year.
But I do know that place of longing these days.
There’s a lot going on in my life that can never be given words in a public space. I’m learning lessons about patience, about old wounds, about family, about honoring myself, about balancing my need for income with my need for space and friends and rest.
I’ve said to a few people recently that it feels like the rich spiritual life I previously enjoyed died a slow death with the process of becoming Catholic. I know it’s not true, but it’s how it feels some days. I suspect it’s there, dormant, hiding in plain sight, but I can’t quite seem to grasp it, to pull it back into my daily reality.
There’s no Christmas tree sparkling in the corner next to the bookshelf yet. My carefully handmade and brightly colored advent wreath remains still in the tote that stores my Christmas goodies. Both will be pulled out sometime soon, but not yet. Christmas is only evident in the tiny stack of unwrapped gifts sitting on the floor, and the lone card I’ve received thus far. My own cards have been ordered, but have not yet arrived, not yet been sent.
I won’t make it to mass this weekend, due (as so often is the case right now) to my work schedule. So I’ll pause and try to remember in the midst of the crazy that is a day shift on the postpartum unit that I am at a beginning, at a place that welcomes longing, at the start of a new year, a new season.
And so, in the space of longing, as the year begins again, I find myself looking for bright moments, aching to recognize the light when (like the outside temperatures of -33C today) all feels cold and unwelcoming.
I found the light this week when that first Christmas card came in the mail, and the note inside made me smile.
I found it in the text that announced the birth of my newest niece, the first pictures of her, the chance just last night to hold her for the first time.
I found it in seeing my baby brother and his wife become the parents of a second daughter, and watching them interact with their girls.
I found it in the truth that reverberated through me in this quote that a friend shared as a response to a Facebook status I posted about how wonderful it was to cuddle my sweet niece, “Babies bless you when you feel their skin. They are the closest beings to Creator and they give you that proximity when you hold them.” (Richard Wagamese)
I found it as I reflected yet again on my favorite line from “O Holy Night” that speaks of a weary world rejoicing.
And I find it looking forward over December as I plan to finish out shopping. As I plan to spend an afternoon and evening with a dear friend who offered her kitchen and time to spend an afternoon cooking a bunch of healthy meals that I can throw in my freezer for those days when I’m simply to tired to make healthy choices on my own.
As I plan to work at a Steve Bell concert and think about listening again to his Advent album.
As I glance at my calendar and realize that at least a couple of times in Advent I will make it to weekend mass.
As I realize that a weary world rejoicing is really what Advent and Christmas are all about. That in the longing and the darkness there is joy and light.
And so it begins again…