3 Things I Love…About Advent

It’s high time that I linked up with Micaela. Micaela doesn’t know that she is on my Short List of Bloggers-to-Meet.  Seriously. She doesn’t know how tempting it is for me to just jump in the car some rainy morning and drive south on 1-5 ’til the sun shines and goes down. (Over the Pacific ocean.  Which is where all proper people know that the sun should set.) She is not on my Short List merely because of proximity, either, although if neither one of us can make it to the Not-a-Conference of 2014, then I might just go crash at her place…but, seriously, we have a lot in common (I think) and every time I read her writing, it makes me nod my head and want to sit down with her and drink coffee while kids run crazy in the not-so-background background. And maybe move in next door and force her to be my friend. So…not creepy…at all…

In any case, while I haven’t yet linked up with 3 Reasons Why I Love Catholicism, I absolutely had to link up this month because, like Micaela, Advent is my very, very favorite time of the liturgical year.

~1~

Readiness for renewal

I love seeing forests that have been ravaged by fire. I can imagine how terrifying the fire must have been, even though I’ve never experienced wildfire. In a world where we try to tame and harness and control most things, a fire running rampant can be unpredictable and destructive. When the fire finally dies, and the adrenaline subsides, all looks bleak and black. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. All that thrived, dead. Advent, in a way that ends up being not so stark as Lent, is a time to settle into bleak midwinter. To acknowledge that our lives, without God, are barren. To recognize that we are a people ravaged. Instead of despairing in this, though, we find that our lives — like forests — need the fire in order to have new and more productive growth. Springtime is coming, folks, so settle into this time of sparsity. Whether this past year was one of intense joy or intense sorrowing (and I will admit that 2013 required real strength for me to weather), I find real peace and hope in these Advent ashes, knowing that fertile ground for new growth is being prepared.

~2~

Absence

This relates to my thoughts above, but I wanted to flesh it out a bit differently.  Advent is a time of preparation through lack.  Not as much lack as in Lent, but lack just the same. (I’m cringing that I’ve just used that word three times in two sentences when this isn’t even a tutorial on how to style Ikea shelves in your house; forgive me.) There is an absence in the Mass since the Gloria is suppressed. We hold back on our celebration as we prepare.  Not completely, as I discuss in a moment, but quite a bit. As someone who gets easily overwhelmed by life, in general, and by celebration in particular, Advent really speaks to my personality.  And I can get a little flustered when I read all the things (worthwhile things, but things just the same) that good moms do for Advent. There is space for these things, for sure, but take heart: Advent is a time for absence. A time for simplicity. A time to get simple, prayerful rhythms in place in order to be ready when A Baby comes and turns your life joyfully upside-down. The way that your family gets ready may not look like much

Advent
Exhibit A

Advent2

but it doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.

~3~

Joy

Have you noticed that it is hard to not let Christmas in a little? Lent is much easier to be somber in. I was thinking on this, wondering if it was just because of the way this particular Holy Day has been secularized.  But you know what? I think it’s because there is a difference. In Lent we unite with Christ’s suffering and strip everything away so that the Pascal mystery takes centrality.  We remember through prayer and fasting and liturgy that Jesus died. It surrounds our senses. We have to participate in the suffering in order to even begin to find (oh! the density of the human condition!) the joy in the resurrection. In Advent, though, we gotta represent our pro-life roots! Mary carried Jesus — as a person — in her womb for nine months. As we work our way through Advent, we get joyful in the same way that a family gets joyful about a gestating child. YES, we put special significance on birth days, and yes, there are aches and pains during pregnancy, yes, we worry about our children and their health, and…yes…sometime pregnancy does become a Lent and our wombs become tombs…I’ve experienced that, too…but joyful anticipation is often just so tangible because, BABY!

So, now, go revel in these last few days of quiet. No matter how your Advent has looked or how you think it may have fallen short, remember that this is not a time for doing but a time making room for God’s will to be done. Because…

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2: 9-10)

unto us.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “3 Things I Love…About Advent

  1. 1. I can tell you that Micaela is every bit as fantastic, and probably even a bit more, than you imagine. And if y’all move in next door to each other, I may possibly lift the “transfer anywhere but California” ban I currently have on Ken’s career.
    2. Your first reason, about the fire? I’m going to be chewing on that for days. Just lovely.

  2. Great post, Maia! And being from a northwest forested region, I really get it how much the forest after a fire is like Advent. It brings up the image of all those new plants quietly gestating under the snow, waiting for the spring to warm the ground and let them burst forth and renew the burned forest. And they NEED the ash from the burned plants to fertilize the ground and nourish them. Also, your comment “settle into this time of sparsity” is so perfect, for Advent, and for winter, and for what you’ve had to deal with this past year. May the new year bring the new shoots springing forth for you.

  3. Maia, this is breathtaking. That part about the fire? Perfection. I’m with you on every point, but especially that one. I *have* loved through wildfires and the springs that follow are not to be compared with any other. We went to Sequioa National Forest last year and learned that those gargantuan trees especially need ash to grow. So, yes. Right on.

    Let me say also that the feeling is mutual. I’m not nearly as good about reading blogs as I should be, but when I do, yours is one of my absolute favorites. So, hey! Move in next door! Or maybe we can meet in Redding and start a Catholic commune together. Cause that wouldn’t be weird or anything…

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