There have been years when lighting the Advent candle/s on my table at night feels like my one act of beauty that day, my one small act of hope in the midst of despair. There have been years where I wasn’t sure anything good could come from me or my life, but I lit the candles anyway, an act of faith.
This is my favorite season of the church year. Not for the Christmas lights, not for the way the commercial world lights everything up around town, not for the cookies or the music or the parties. It is my favorite season for the oddness of it. Not a penitential season like Lent, not a celebratory season like Easter or Christmas. It’s a season of hope and expectation, and its color is blue. It’s a season of waiting, of being in-between, of the friction between joy and grief.
Hope and expectation. It’s a season of acknowledging the many ways that the world and our lives are not what we want it to be, looking unflinchingly at those wounds, and deciding not to take the bait of despair.
I approach Advent differently each year, depending on what life is doing at the time. Sometimes it whizzes by and it’s all I can do to get a few candles on the table to mark the passing of the weeks. Other times – particularly in the past few years – I have clung to this season of light in the darkness, and returned to the Advent wreath on our table every night to light the candles in the midst of unremitting grief. The nightly ritual has sustained me.
Grief is not a part of my personal story this year. What a relief. I have come through some of (what I hope are) the hardest years of my life, and I am able now to greet the season with some sense of real peace. So much peace, in fact, that I’ve decided to take on a few practices to help me stay centered and quiet during this first few weeks of the church year.
This blog is one of those practices. Welcome. Let’s walk together.