Sitting here recuperating from hip surgery I am blessed with time to do what an invalid is allowed to do —think, doze, read, visit with folks who stop by with yummy food. Of course it is not a holiday, but healing allows for this other world, a slower world, to poke its head in and say, “Howdy, time for me to sit a spell!”
It’s Advent and for those of us who parallel our regular calendars with the calendar of the Christian Church, we are now into a new church year. Advent is always a special time in the church when the paraments change colors to a deep royal blue, the music moves between joyful and penitent. The people of God are just waiting for the Candlelight service on Christmas Eve, the singing of “Silent Night” and then Christmas Day when the words, “Christ is born” ring through churches everywhere.
Advent has been celebrated since ancient times. Originally it was a time when the world plunged into darkness and cold and the inhabitants watched and waited for the days to lengthen and the sun to reappear. Someone told me the other day they are already anxious for the winter solstice so they know the days are getting longer. We are no different than ancient humans who hungered for light. Early Christians saw in this period of light and dark a piece of reality. All of life is light and dark.
My second day of Advent devotional (Richard Rohr) was a reminder of the importance of living with clarity and purpose. The writer said we do not live with certitude, rather we live in faith. There is always a darkness, an unknowing that follows our every step. We are not given the surety of the next breath. The next moment is not ours. We cannot claim anything or hold it fast; or lock it away. Jesus says what we lock up will only rust and decay. We have to plunge into the life we have been given with the joy of the moment. We are only given enough clarity so that we no longer need absolute certainty to live.
The Christmas season is all about light and dark. We light porch lights and Christmas trees and candles to hold back the darkness. It is as ancient a practice as humans themselves. When the darkness surrounds us the light is a reminder we do not need to fear. So we do not know what tomorrow will bring, not everything we demand or desire, but it will be a good day when we walk in the certainty of the light that is just beyond this dark moment.