I have a bit of a crush on Advent.
I buy things for Advent and I daydream about Advent and I want to spend as much time with Advent as possible.
And every year, I am disappointed. This isn’t because Advent stands me up, however, but because I make Advent stand in the snow, and put a Santa hat on her head, and fill her arms with enough books and music and art and calendars to make anyone topple.*
When will I learn that Advent is more about letting go and listening than strapping as many things to my body as I can?
Maybe this will be the year I fall all the way in love with Advent.
After all, I can relate more to Advent longing than Christmas joy. Give me poetry that makes me ache, give me songs that make me cry. Give me silence and take away the color and let us sweat and climb together. Maybe the sun will come out from behind the clouds for a moment, maybe we will glimpse the shore across the channel, maybe we will catch an earful of birdsong before we have to pull our hoods up and turn our bodies away from the wind.
I am restless. I am always restless. Even on my happiest days, I am restless.
I look for people who will take away my restlessness. I try to make something of myself. I cannot stop moving, but I know I must stop moving.
I think of St. Augustine’s words and I know, deep down, that I’m looking for God, somehow:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
I’m looking, but I have not found. At times, I think I glimpse something out of the corner of my eye, but when I turn, nothing is there.
The sky is overcast and I am so cold.
But I can breathe.
Maybe the real God is not who I expect. Maybe the real God doesn’t want to take me off my lonely mountain and stick me in a room where the windows are shut tight and all the furnishings are from a certain decade, a certain century, a certain school of thought. Maybe the real God is breathing the same air I am and likes the mountain as much as I do.
I pull hope into my lungs, hope fills my ears and streams from my eyes, hope dances with me in the darkness, hope sits with me in the pain. And this is what I love about Advent.
*Not that Advent books and music and art and calendars are unhelpful. Quite the contrary. I just tend to imbibe too many at once. This year, I will be sitting with my friend Cara Strickland‘s devotional calendars, a bit of music, and perhaps a book of poetry (any suggestions?).