The Advent of Advent

THE SEASON of Advent is about something unknown emerging on the horizon, something we have never seen before. The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus – to come. There is wondrous and expectant feeling about the very word ‘Advent.’

In the northern hemisphere, Advent takes place during the darkest and coldest time of the year. The weather can be bitter, the days are shorter, and the darkness grows longer. The trees are bare, everything outside looks stark. All of nature’s roots are reaching deep down into earth for sustenance and protection.

Our ancestors knew this season of night and darkness in ways we can probably never know. For them the light became the hope of life, literally a guarantee that life would continue if you saw the sun peaking over the horizon. And so dark and light have become our constant companions. In the darkness we can’t see, we stumble and fall, we may even lose our way. These are our demons, our ghosts and the unknown, that sometimes are so dark, we can’t see through them, much like our ancestors experienced the night.

Is it any wonder that light has come to mean so much to us? Is it any wonder that we yearn for the rich and beautiful language of light – luminous, blazing, glowing, illuminating, radiant, sparkling twinkling, shining, brilliant, awakening, enlightened… Light is deep within us as the symbol of what is most sacred, divine and alive. Yet we can’t know it fully unless we also know the dark. This is the setting in which our Christmas stories were written. This is the season of Advent, the story of our own birth, out of the darkness and into the light.

Advent is a quiet, contemplative time in the darkness waiting for the light, the light for the whole human race. It is a time to dig deeply into ourselves, excavating our souls, stretching our roots down to who and what we were created to be, so that we might be born anew. This inner preparation is nourished by prayer, the silence, sacred music and rituals of the season.

What has been in the dark, we bring forth into the world, emerging with a renewed sense of wholeness, a renewed sense of hope. The unknown that we have been waiting for emerges more bright and shiny, as a lamp unto the world, uplifting and empowering every person desiring light in their darkest days.

If we truly dare to enter the darkness, the solitude of our soul, and are willing to risk embracing those things that are hidden, then our Christmas story becomes one the whole world is waiting for. Advent is a season that is about learning to wait, knowing that whatever is coming, is God working in, through and as us. Yet while we are waiting, we come to realize that whatever is coming depends on us.

Advent is a time to contemplate on every piece of our lives, some difficult, some inspiring, but all pieces that teach us to stay in the present moment. It is only through staying present to all these pieces of life, knowing that only when they are well-lived and well loved, are we brought to the fullness of life we have been awaiting, which is the culmination of Advent. We call that culmination Christmas.

Let’s expand our light every day, in ever-increasing wider circles and in ever-increasing ways so that the true meaning of Christmas is lived out through the divine light of our humanity with wisdom, compassion and great joy. YOU are the reason for the season!