By Sister Christine Parks
Already we are midway through another Advent, and I find myself at this same point, of wondering where the days have gone so quickly, every year. There’s an old saying that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’. Well I have to take issue with the dubious truism of this. At this point in my life (further past the midpoint than I like to think about) it seems that time flies whether one is having fun or not—Advent being my case in point at the moment.
It is my favorite of the liturgical seasons (although if the “season of creation” ever takes off as a truly recognized annual liturgical season, as Pope Francis and many of us hope, I will have two favorites) but back to Advent, this season of expectant waiting and preparation for Christ’s coming, that I would like to have linger a bit.
Now I know most of us experience Advent as the time of waiting and preparing for Christmas with its celebration of the birth of Jesus. And, perhaps like you, I do enjoy all the festive decorating—beginning with the Advent wreath and its four candles, then on to the Christmas tree (and for me that means a real tree, which is more environmentally sustainable), ornaments, lights, garlands, and of course the crèche—usually with the manger empty until Christmas Eve. I also have to confess I enjoy the presents—both receiving and giving them.
However the real coming I await each year is the coming of the risen Christ, not the baby Jesus. Every year I promise myself to slow down, breathe more deeply and contemplatively, appreciate the growing time of dark. My longing is to be more open to the inspiring readings of scripture—how Isaiah describes the wonder of this God who loves us so completely and intimately—to listen for how they will speak to my heart, and for where I am being called to follow. And each year I reach this mid-point and realize I’ve drifted through the first two weeks, consumed by the usual accumulation of daily “stuff” that can drown out the whisper of the Holy voice. And this being the year before another national election, those voices are becoming even louder and more strident than the usual pervasive and ubiquitous Christmas buying hype.
But the hopeful thing about a midpoint is that there’s still time, still half the time left, to reclaim the advent journey. So today I’ll put up the crèche, brew a cup of tea, sit wrapped in an afghan in front of the window, watch the snow and look for the tracks of the One whose coming has been foretold, ready to follow……Why don’t you join me? There’s enough tea for two and waiting is always more sustainable with a companion. Let’s wait quietly together for the One who has already come.
About the Author
Sister Christine Parks formerly served as a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Leadership Team. She currently serves as a Spiritual Director, and occasional program presenter, with Transformations Spirituality Center in Kalamazoo. Her leisure activities include gardening, long walks in nature, reading, writing, attending plays and concerts, as well as museums.