Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent - catching my breath.


When I was a kid, someone in the family would always lobby to open a present on Christmas Eve. It was usually my dad. My mom was the stickler - no presents till Christmas, but we'd always get to open at least one.

My mom was probably trying to insulate us from Christmas creep. Even if Target starts Christmas in October, she would remind us all that Christmas starts on the 25th. Before then, you're in Advent.

I've had my tree for a week and I'm listening to Christmas music on Pandora right now. That's partly because there isn't that much good Advent music. I heard the National Symphony Orchestra's Messiah last night, and the beginning of that is some fine Advent music. My favorite Advent hymn right now is "Each Winter as The Year Grows Older" by William and Annabeth Gay. (can't find a good link).

I'm clearly not an Advent purist but I am avoiding too much Christmas creep right now because I'm not ready for Christmas.

Oh, gifts are more or less purchased and sent, my house is cozy and Christmas-y, and though I won't send cards at least I've made peace with that instead of wasting energy on guilt for days and then not sending them anyway.

My to-do-list is done. That's not the problem. The problem is that I've been loving Advent. It has felt like a time apart - like a good hiking trip or a week of vacation. I want this time to last.

The 3rd verse of "Each Winter..." sings:
"Yet I believe beyond believing that life can spring from death. That growth can flower from our grieving , that we can catch our breath and turn transfixed by faith."

I love that. I really needed to catch my breath. This Advent, maybe for the first time in my life, I found that I am doing it. Pausing. I've become good at waiting. The patience, the not-yet, and the calm that Advent calls for has become integrated into my soul and it feels great.

I have no desire to tear into the gifts. Potentiality seems blessed. Sitting peacefully feels just right. I want to stay waiting.

And at the same time, I anticipate new realities will make themselves known soon enough and so I trust that when the waiting time is over, Christmas will come with its own surprises.

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