We’ve now passed into the season of Advent, the preparation season before Christmas. The name comes from adventus in Latin which means the arrival – the physical arrival – of an honoured guest. In the mainstream traditions, it refers both to the commemoration of the birth of Christ and to the anticipated “second coming” of Christ. For gnostic Christians, the future coming of Christ may be more a hope that Christ will arrive within the heart of the practitioner.
Our tradition refers to Advent, like Lent, as a “solemn” season, in other words a quiet season of preparation. For us, in our part of the world, this seems such a paradox. There are so many competing demands as we head into the month before Christmas and summer begins to heat up: parties, invitations to the beach, camping trips, work end-of-year functions. “Quiet”, contemplation, prayer – these things seems a long way away. I have found, in my own life, that respecting the energy of the tradition is important – the more space in my day and my life and myself I make during the solemn seasons the more I can tune into the deep quiet that is always present, thrumming away in the background.
It’s common to call this the “silly season” and I’ve started to wonder whether the reason it always feels so crazy, so out-of-control, is that we’re so caught up in it’s busy-ness and so detached from the sacred that we all go a little nuts.
I’m not proposing that you become a recluse during Advent or that you don’t go camping, but I am suggesting that you develop some firm intentions right now, so that you work this season on your own terms instead of letting it sweep you away. I believe that Advent challenges us to pause, reaffirm our intentions and our practice and step mindfully through the summer, to reinforce our inner work and our prayer life so that we aren’t lost in the rush. How can you establish a daily practice of stepping out of the stream so you can step mindfully back in?
Perhaps you might add some spiritual reading to your morning routine, reassert your meditation practice, add some prayer of gratitude at bedtime, commit yourself to attending a service each week through Advent or simply ensure that each day has some quiet, perhaps a walk in the park, to allow you some space and solitude.
Take a moment today, commit to some practice during the Advent season and get a clear intention to be present to the Peace whenever you can. While you’re there, and perhaps throughout the coming weeks, consider – Who or what comes in the Incarnation? What do you think of Christmas? Who or what are you welcoming?
My blessings on you and your family in this Advent Tide. May Peace find you.