Last week I had great fun, driving all over Lincoln (and Concord) with Margit, as we delivered the special Advent boxes that she (and families) had made with such loving care and attention. “It’s the Advent workshop in a box!” Margit would tell families when she handed them the festive box.
It got me thinking about the Advent crafts I used to make at my church when I was a child. Maybe that helped to instill in me a love for Advent that has never left me, the sense that this is a special season, this before-Christmas time. At home, we made things with our hands, fashioning them out of paper, wood, cloth and bits of this and that, getting glitter everywhere I am sure! At church, we lit purple and pink candles on the Advent wreath, there was special music and we practiced for the Christmas nativity play.
Now, as an adult, Advent has a different meaning for me. In fact, as I move through the different chapters of my life, I imagine it is different every year, because I am different. But I continue to think of Advent as a time to try and connect with the “life of the spirit. Advent invites me to try and pay a little more attention to “the inner life,” the spiritual life. To try and give it a bit more time and attention than I might usually. This year, I’m reading a book by a Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron and a beautiful book on Advent that draws wisdom from animals and the natural world.
And, along with some of you, I’ll delve into a book I’ve been longing to read since Meredith gave it to me last year. It’s called Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown-Taylor, an award-winning preacher and teacher of religion. I always liked that title but now, more than ever, it seems apt. Taylor wonders why we seem to prefer what she calls a “solar spirituality” and wonders if there might be something we could learn, spiritually, in the darkness. That, in fact, we can ONLY learn in the darkness.
Keep alert. Watch. Wait. Stay awake. Those are the ancient messages of the Advent season. Whether this year you are nestling into the darkness with appreciation or looking fervently towards the “coming back” of the light, I hope this sense of spiritual “awakeness” will be with you in these days.