Advent has a beautiful simplicity to it that reminds me to turn again toward home; a coming back to myself. It is the only time of the year in Minnesota that always coincides with the change in seasons outside my front door. The trees are bare, and the winter garden is asleep. Winter snow has yet to fall. Cold and darkness draw me inside early and slow my comings and goings. And night descends bringing with it a vague longing.
This season holds for me a rare time of “expectant” waiting. It’s not the passive chore of waiting online or on hold, that I always fail to master. This is a waiting in new awareness. Even during the rush of the holiday season around me, part of me is removed, an inner standing back. I watch myself wait. It seems that in Advent I can cease my restless, spiritual wandering. Just for now, I can set it aside, and am able to rest in the knowledge that I am, right now, right where I am supposed to be. My spiritual journey that is so integral to who I am during the rest of the year is now for the moment set aside.
During these weeks of Advent, it is enough to wait. I find that I am waiting in the fullness of certain anticipation. It is a time to just rest in the knowledge that Christ will come to all anew at Christmas. This anticipation is always rewarded. It makes Advent a time of certitude that I never feel during the rest of the year.
This is a time of action and inaction. It is a time to make lists, and cookies, and just watch the snow fall. It is a time to embrace time and watch the faces of those around me. My waiting with beautiful music, time honored readings, and my own favorite passages, leads me once again to become reacquainted with myself.
Advent brings us into step with the natural world, with the Church’s year, and with ourselves. As we weekly light each Advent candle, we are carried steadily forward into the light and warmth that is just there for us. No need to strive, to work, to deserve it. It is just there waiting for us as the beloved of God. The quiet coming of Christ at Christmas becomes real for me in a special way. And just for now I know where to find the face of God that I work so hard to know during the rest of the year.
And so, in certain expectation, I wait.
Kathy Fleming serves as Artist Coordinator for the Benedictine Center and Co-Chair of the Art and Spirituality Committee. Learn more about her work online at www.kflemingart.com.