image by Werner Schnell, from Flickr
I've always wondered exactly when it was that Advent started. Calendars and such begin on the first of the month because, I suppose, the month starts with 1, not 2 or 3. But liturgically, I realize, the last Sunday after Pentecost runs its course through the whole of the week, including the Saturday that follows it. So Advent does, personal observances notwithstanding, begin on Sunday. This was confirmed for me this morning when I went to Pinterest with great anticipation of following Advent there on a particular board only to learn that I would have to wait until tomorrow.
I have decided, however, to begin my own Advent observance today on the first of the month.
Historically, personally, Advent is a season with deep, nurturing roots in my childhood. They are warm and fuzzy, and bask in the glow of Advent Candle light--among other things. In adulthood I draw on the nostalgia of Advent to launch me into a season that theologically and spiritually doesn't always line up for me. I ride its wave, so to speak, but rely fully on where the wave takes me, rather than using any sort of motivation to help me make the most of that ride.
It's different this year. There's been a lot of spiritual angst and honing, and for the first time I am living with an acknowledged hardness in my heart. It's not my whole heart, just a piece of it. But the fact that any hardness exists is unacceptable. So I am catching the wave at the onset, digging deep into the apocalyptic foundations of darkness to appreciate as fully as possible the gift that is on its way to us.
I am struck, as well, that as that uncomfortable tide carries us forward a parallel journey is underway for an oddly matched couple expecting an untimely birth. Theirs is a journey over dusty roads and inhospitable strangers, but they go faithfully. They do their part as citizens following clear instructions on the one hand, while on the other they have entrusted themselves fully to a mystery that will shatter all mysteries.
My earthly road is long and dusty, too. The spiritual one? Full of trepidation. Not because I worry about the outcome, but because of what life is like waiting on the outcome. How appropriate for Advent.
Today I attend that wait, releasing the care of it to God while holding hands with Mary, and doing whatever I can to shake loose that bit of hardness so that I may soar with the angels that come to announce good tidings.
Blessings, dear ones.