“Advent” is from the word “to come,” and while it is a reminder of the coming of Jesus into the world, then and now, this season also asks to look into our hearts and to ask: What is coming into our lives? Where is the longing?
There is ground in all of us that needs to be prepared for whatever new is coming. Advent calls us to the work of receptivity… of emptying out. In the story of the Annunciation, the angel coming to Mary with astounding news, she “makes room,” literally and metaphorically, for new life, for surprise, for an upending of life as she knew it.
One of the paradoxes of Advent is that it asks us to be open and receptive, to make room…and it also has a theme of waiting, of preparation. For many of us, none of these inner and outer tasks are easy… but to do them at the same time? That can seem particularly hard.
Advent’s invitations will be different for each of us. Maybe the first step is to become aware of some of these summonses… and to ponder in your heart where you are asked to co-create with God during this season of surprise.
Some questions to get you started:
Do you know what you are waiting for, if anything, at this time in your life? The Advent season is both inner and outer… your soul may have a surprising answer if you ask it: “What are we waiting for, hoping for….” Try journaling on this during Advent this year.
My hunch is, we are not called to wait for the same old, same old. In waiting itself is a call, a need for openness—perhaps radical openness.
What gestation, that can’t be rushed, are you waiting for? Where do you need to enter the crucible of your own life, or the life of another, or a place of need in the world?
What do you need to clear out… to make room for what?
As you wait, can you at the same time be open to surprise? Advent, like all the mysterious church seasons, has many aspects, and can bring both shadow and light. And sometimes what we receive in these times is not what we hoped for, but something else. When this happens, Advent waiting rests on our response, our prayerful reaction to the unimaginably new.
One of my favorite translations of this Isaiah verse speaks to me of Advent:
“It isn’t always about amassing things or receiving accolades. Jesus taught that the essence of happy living is Love – knowing how to receive it and how to extend it. “This is My commandment, that you love one another.” Love and Joy are inextricably bound.” –Dr. Brown
Nina H. Frost