Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's coming on Christmas...

Advent always feels like an exhale of relief to me. At Halloween, the holidays feel like fun. Digging out the decor-
ations, dusting them off, making your home look and feel festive is a pleasure. The pressure mounts for Thanksgiving. There are schedules to juggle, and a detailed, honest to God menu to plan. If you're having company, there's additional cleaning to do, and I, at least, when confronted with the idea of spending time with family have to fight to keep my inner sullen, rebellious, fourteen year old misfit from dominating my personality. Then, there's the expense of Christmas, and the gift, pressure and burden of creating memories and traditions, all that shopping, the climbing on the ladder to hang lights, the we have to have baked goods in the house pressure, the have to get everything bought, wrapped and where is that damned tape pressure. Then there's the nagging voice of my inner Martha Stewart who's reminding me that the silver needs polishing, the holly needs refreshing, and how dare I use a mix, and I really should be more creative than that. Then the schedule gets tighter and tighter, and of course, work never lets up, and then the kid is at home and bored, and it's all my responsibility, and, is it any wonder I can't breathe? Add in less sunlight, the fact that depression always fights harder to take over this time of year, and is it any wonder that I can't breathe?

And then there's Advent, when I take a moment to think about something other than what I need to be doing. Advent allows the mystery, wonder and glory of Jesus to become a conscious part of me. I open the window of a calendar and the pleasure of receiving a piece of chocolate makes me feel like a kid again or hearing Handel's Messiah sends my spirit soaring to some regal and majestic place. As Lent is a time to prepare my soul for service, Advent prepares me for wonder and awe. My mind and spirit are opened to the trek of following a new and mysterious star. Advent indelibly binds the numinous to days when anything other than the overfilled agenda is easy to overlook. It makes me conscious. It reminds me that I am part of a whole that is larger than my imagination.

I didn't light the first candle on my Advent wreath today, despite this being the official beginng of the season. It's still on a shelf until the painting is done. My ritual may be off pace, but I did take the time to pause, to relax, to pray, to breathe in the Holy Spirit and yes, to exhale. The ritual will wait, but the need for Advent won't. Despite the holiday decorations and lights, the darkness can seem deeper and lonelier this time of year, and Advent, like the candles on its wreaths, creates a welcoming, gentle and genuine glowing place to rest as we rush through the gloom.

Robin, a very wise lady over at Search the Sea, began her Advent early and is sharing it with us. It's been a wonderful gift to me.



Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Being an agnostic, I don't even think of Advent or Lent anymore. My thoughts tend to lean more toward Solstice celebrations and pagans... Still, there will always be that deeply ingrained Christianity that and never be entirely purged. And during Christmas, that's a good thing. Otherwise, singing things like "O Holy Night" might be a bit awkward... :P

December 04, 2006 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Cynthia. You capture the blend of sadness and hope, pressure and joy, so well.

And thanks for the nod, including the humorous part (about wisdom).

December 05, 2006 7:30 AM  

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