It has been a long, dark, loud November for me. This month has felt like a downward spiral from difficult to devastating, and the increasing darkness that comes with the longer nights of this month has well reflected how the world feels around me. To be clear, it hasn’t been anything personal going awry in my life. However, as a living, breathing, person I have been unable to extricate myself and my feelings from the very heavy things going on in the world around me. They feel personal, even though I am nowhere near them. I don’t live in the United States, or near Standing Rock, or in Syria, but these places are part of the world in which I live, and it is for the world that I have been grieving – a world that seems to be growing more angry, more hateful, more dangerous.
I have been silent on my blog this month, because the month has also been so very LOUD. Sometimes I feel like the news and my Facebook feed is screaming at me: “It’s so bad!” “It’s so hard!” “All the things!” I have felt the need to be quiet, which comes as much from not quite knowing what to say, as much as from a place of not wanting to be another voice saying something.
But today, I write. I write to name something that is more real this year for me than perhaps any other year. I write to say that I need advent, and thanks be to God, I am so glad it is here.
I didn’t grow up with Advent being a big part of my life. For me, Advent was nothing more than the cardboard calendar with boxes I could open each day with a piece of chocolate. I did grow up with lots of excitement for Christmas, which has carried into my adulthood. I am definitely a “Christmas person” and I love getting to the time when I can decorate the house, host the parties, and have my husband stop scowling when I turn on the Christmas music. Culturally, this is, indeed, the “holiday season.” The music is playing in the stores, the lights are up, the events have begun. I love it! …And I need something more.
I need Advent.
Advent is part of the Christian calendar. You won’t find it listed on the calendars you get from your gas station or the daytimers you buy at Staples. But you will find it listed, with great importance, in books outlining Christian worship practices and lectionaries. Advent is the season that leads up to Christmas, which is why those chocolate calendars totally get it right. Advent is when we wait for Christmas, with anticipation not unlike children who are counting down the days each chocolate represents.
This may not sound like much worth remembering. After all, who likes waiting? But this is not simply a looking-at-your-watch-waiting-for-your-turn-at-the-passport-office sort of waiting. This is a hopeful, longing waiting. It is waiting that admits that we are a people who have not figured it all out. It is a waiting that acknowledges that we feel the darkness, and it is hard. It is a waiting that says: “Come, Jesus” – because we need you.
I need this kind of waiting. I need the space to say: “I am sad about what is happening.” I need the space to lament. I need the space to want things to be different, to pray, and say: “God, send your light because it is dark.” I need to light candles of hope, peace, joy, and love. And I need the space to hope. I need the space to remember, with advent, that Christmas comes. That Christ comes. That light comes.
Welcome, advent. I’ve needed you this month.
Come, Lord Jesus. We need you, always.